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Fall & Winter 1997
Fall and Winter 1997

How Not to Become a Trail Rescue Victim
by Ravindra N. Vajjhala, M.D., Director of Emergency Medicine
Brownsville General Hospital

An enjoyable day of trail riding can suddenly become an exercise in search and rescue for a local emergency medical team. Getting injured, of course, is the last thought on your mind as you, your family and/or friends embark on a fun-filled day in the wilderness - but yet, being prepared is easy and worthwhile.

Prevention of injuries starts with the proper equipment (helmits, safety seats for children) and safe riding Techniques:

1. Use caution around animals. Prevent animal bites and disease like rabies and Lyme's disease.
2. Have bikes safety inspected annually.
3. If a fall is significant, it should be followed up with a visit to your family doctor.
4. Always inform someone prior to embarking on a ride or carry a phone so you can communicate in an emergency.
5. If trail is adjacent to a road way, use extreme caution.
6. Always have a physical examine done by your physician prior to beginning any exercise.
7. Use reflective clothing during evening riding.

You will usually be wearing a fanny pak or have a bike pack attached to your cycle so put some tender loving stuff in it including:

  • A whistle: if you are lost, it's easier than hollering.
  • Roll of adhesive tape bandaids
  • Small bottle peroxide and packet of neosporin
  • Small Swiss Army knife for a multitude of uses
  • A few essential medications: including a tablet or two of ibuprofen, benadryl for bee stings, bee sting kit, and any prescription meds
  • Matches: psychologically and physically, the warmth of a small fire is good and helps if someone is looking for you

This list, of course, could be expanded. But, once it gets bigger, you'll be less likely to take it along. The contents of this list should fit into a small Ziploc baggie and be easy to take with you each time out.

And as we know, times does pass quickly when we are having fun on the way to our destination. But, one must always remember the equal amount of time and energy that must be expended returning to the car! Time often passes rather quickly and the urge to explore further beckons us onward. If somewhere, somehow, something goes wrong - it's not just a short, easy trek back to the car a few miles away.

So, how do you avoid becoming an exercise for the local search and rescue team? And if you do, how can you help assure that they'll find you safe and healthy?

Obviously, your bike should be in peak condition. If you're riding in new terrain, the urge to explore can often take hold. If you're planning on biking a long distance and haven't replaced your chain or bike cables for sometime, coast in to your nearest bike repair shop for a check up. Carry at least the bare essentials including a tube and patch kit, pump, tire levers and a multitool, all of which will fit again in your bike pack. Staying out of the search-and-rescue logbook is basically pretty easy. With common sense and a little preparation, you should have a great experience on the trail.

For more information on Safe Biking, Jogging, and Walking,

Email: rdulla@sgi.net
Phone: 724-786-6631
Fax : 724-785-1888

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