Saturday, June 1, 2013

Keeping It Safe on the Trails

Jannine Myers

Highlights from last weekend's Trail Safety and First Aid Event

Last week we were briefed on trail safety (by Red Cross CPR and First Aid Instructor, Erik Myers), and shown what to do in the event of an injury or illness. So that we don't forget some of the essentials, I've highlighted below what types of first-aid and survival items might be useful for trail running. First up though, there are three critical principles of first-aid that everyone should know:

  1. Preserve life - your own first, and then others, with an added emphasis on remaining calm. 
  2. Prevent deterioration - treat the injury and prevent the situation from getting worse.
  3. Promote recovery - do whatever you can to help the injured person/s. The Good Samaritan law offers legal protection to persons (in most Western countries) who offer reasonable assistance to those who are injured, ill, or in danger of losing their lives. 
Memorize these three principles ladies, and take your first-aid bags with you on those longer trail runs. Here's a recap of some of the items:

  • A mask - to protect from bloodborne pathogens, or other infectious bodily substances. A runner having to administer emergency rescue breaths will be grateful for the extra protection a mask provides!
  • Two baby safety pins. Safety pins can be used to re-secure items of clothing that might get torn during a nasty fall, or to secure a sling or bandage, or to dig out splinters.
  • Five feet of cord. Keeping a stash of cord in your first-aid bag can come in handy for any of the following reasons: to replace a torn shoe lace; to immobilize a broken arm; to secure a splint; or as a last resort, to use as a tourniquet (click the following link for instructions on how to tie a tourniquet:
  • Three feet of duct tape. Perhaps one of the more versatile items, duct tape can be used in the following ways: it can be used as makeshift moleskin to prevent blisters, or provide relief to blisters which have already formed; it can be used as a bandage to support a dressing or splint, or to restrict a part of the body, or to slow heavy bleeding or blood flow in the event of a snake bite (athletic tape does not adhere as well as duct tape when the skin is wet or sweaty); duct tape can also be used to write on and stick to a tree, in the event that a runner wants to leave a distress message for search and rescue workers.
  • A seemingly insignificant item, a pencil could potentially save your life. As noted above, messages with pertinent information left on trees for search and rescue teams could mean the difference between life and death. Pencils are the most viable writing instrument, as markings from pens and markers will fade much quicker than that of a pencil. Pencils can also be used to record information that might assist emergency crews; information about allergies for example, or descriptive details about a snake, or a record of signs and symptoms. 
  •  Cue tips, and neosporin in a 2 inch soda straw (sealed at both ends). The neosporin (stored in a 2 inch soda straw for the purpose of "compactness"), is obviously useful for treating skin infections, and to prevent infections in burns, minor cuts, and wounds. The neosporin can be applied to a cue tip, which in turn can be applied directly to the wound. Cue tips are also useful for cleaning wounds; they can be dipped in water and then used to sweep away dirt and debris.
  • Mylar blanket, also known as a first aid, or emergency, or thermal blanket. What's so great about these blankets is that they can be folded up and stored in a small snack size ziploc bag, and they weigh  next to nothing (less than 2oz.). Useful in a sudden downpour, or to keep you warm if the temperatures suddenly drop, a mylar blanket offers warmth and protection from cold weather elements.

In addition to these essential items, first-aid bags should also include: alcohol pads, various types of gauze, bandaids of different sizes and width, and antibiotic ointment. Also recommended, as items to carry in either a camelbak or on your body (in clothing pockets), include: a cellphone, a whistle and compass, a small amount of money, baby wipes, quick-energy snacks and electrolytes.

Always remember, your best form of defense is to always be prepared.

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