This is your essential emergency action plan

By Nina Beltran | Photo by rawpixel/Unsplash

Sports and outdoor activities always involve some risk. One particular incident that caught my attention and urged me to write a piece on emergency guidelines was about a cycling accident at Timberland.

I prefer not to post the actual photos of the fallen cyclist here—it’s too depressing. The photo showed a cyclist lying face down at the curb, with bleeding trauma on the head. He wasn’t moving and seemed to be unconscious. The concerned bystander and fellow cyclist who witnessed and posted this said that he wanted to help but didn’t know any better on what to do. He wasn’t trained to do first aid. Nobody touched the poor cyclist until an ambulance came moments later.

There are a myriad things one could have done to increase this man’s chances of survival. I asked a few of my triathlete friends: What if it happened to one of us? What would you do? Sadly, they wouldn’t know what to do either. One said he would helplessly watch and pray that medics are on their way. Only if the bystanders or fellow athletes knew what to do, they’ll have the confidence to help in these kinds of situations.

So, here are guidelines from the International Triathlon Union (ITU) for medical emergencies for everyone’s benefit.

What to Do if the Athlete is Unconscious?

Being knocked unconscious is a serious injury and requires immediate medical assistance. First aid should be limited to making sure that the athlete is breathing and that his mouth and throat are clear of turf, blood or vomit. Make them lie on their back to keep airways open. If the mouth and throat are not clear, clear them out with your finger. If you are trained and licensed to do so, administer CPR if the athlete stops breathing.

Be careful about moving the athlete. Besides having a head injury or concussion, he may also have neck injury. Keep him in place until seen by a doctor or paramedic.

Some key points to remember:

1. Always have your phones with you. Have a game plan so you know who to call, how to call, and what to do in case of serious injury.

2. Bring a first aid kit. Go through this list carefully. It’s advisable that a medical professional teach you how to use them so that when the time comes, you will know how to apply a Steri-strip to close a wound, mold a split to support a sprained ankle, or use a pocket mask to perform rescue breathing.

  • First aid manual or emergency/CPR flashcards
  • Safety pins
  • Plasters and band-aids
  • disinfectants (betadine, hydrogen peroxide)
  • Paramedic or EMT shears or scissors
  • Splinter forceps or tweezers
  • Standard thermometer
  • Wooden tongue depressors
  • Waterproof flashlights
  • CPR mouth barrier or pocket mask
  • Sterile gloves
  • Instant chemical cold packs
  • Ziploc bags to hold ice for ice packs
  • List of emergency phone numbers

3. Know and practice CPR. CPR is cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. Proper training is needed in order for one to be able to practice this. This life-saving procedure is used as first aid for unconscious and unresponsive individuals. You should not attempt to do this if you are not trained and licensed. ITU encourages all athletes to familiarize themselves with CPR and basic life support.

A triathlete-friendly and specified training center for Heart Savers certification (that includes administration of first aid to common athletic injuries and CPR) offers this kind of training in Fe Del Mundo Medical Center in Quezon City. The center offers athletes half day American Heart Association-accredited training on first aid and basic life support.