KZN advanced life support paramedic and trail runner Kate Quin is a member of mountain rescue. She advises on whether you should call for help or take care of it yourself.
Whether you’re an intrepid trailblazer or casual weekend jogger, you can benefit from having some idea on how to handle an emergency situation.
In a real emergency, seconds count and promptly calling for help can save a life. This is why it is so important to ensure you have the race organisers’ supplied emergency contact number saved and easily accessible on your phone. If you’re just out enjoying the trails, make sure you have your local emergency number saved as well. This is one area where it is so easy to be prepared.
Chances are though that you will only ever need to practice basic first aid on the trails, dealing with minor lacerations (cuts), abrasions (grazes) or puncture wounds. These wounds will require proper cleaning and application of germicidal cream to prevent infection. If you’re at a race, the medics can usually assist you with this. I always like to make sure my tetanus injection is up to date as even a minor scrape can have serious consequences.
If the wound continues to bleed despite rest and the application of pressure, or if bone is visible, you may need the wound closed professionally with stitches or staples.
Another emergency situation one may encounter on the trail is being bitten or stung. If you experience a serious allergic reaction, you should be carrying an epipen and show your running partner how to administer it. You will probably need to call for help.
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