Monday, May 13, 2013

Trek Medical Tip #1 - Lightning

Trek Medics may have more of these from time to time, we'll keep to a one page maximum.

Trek Medics are getting excited!  I spoke with one worried mom a few days ago, she told me how much she is trusting all of us to take care of her baby!

Happy Mother's Day

Lightning Safety

Trek trail leadership will be making the decision on how the entire column responds to a lightning threat, making the decision to “shelter in place” or evacuate to a shelter. The following information is provided in case evacuation is not possible or feasible, and we are overtaken by a lightning storm. {factoid: thunder travels @ one mile/5 seconds} Lightning can strike many kilometers from the parent thunderstorm, well outside the rain area and even beyond the visible thundercloud.

If you cannot flee to a safer location, take action to minimize the threat of being struck. Proceed from higher to lower elevations. Avoid wide-open areas. Avoid tall, isolated objects like trees, poles, and light posts. Do not consider unprotected open structures such as picnic pavilions. Avoid contact with metal fences, or other long metal structures. And the cardinal rule remains: Do not take shelter under trees to keep dry during thunderstorms. Separate people from the handcarts by at least 50 yards.

If circumstances have found you outside of a shelter, far removed from a safer place when lightning is occurring, there are still measures to be taken. If lightning is about to strike, it will sometimes provide a very few seconds of warning. Sometimes your hair may stand on end, your skin will tingle, light metal objects will vibrate or you will hear a crackling or "kee-kee" sound. If this happens and you're in a group, spread out so there are several body lengths between each person. Once you've spread out, use the lightning crouch. Put your feet together, squat down, tuck your head, and cover your ears. When the immediate threat of lightning has passed, continue heading to the safest place possible.

If the worst happens, there are key Lightning First Aid guidelines. First, call for the Trek Medic SUV immediately. Since all deaths from lightning strikes result from cardiac arrest and/or stopped breathing, begin treatment as soon as possible. CPR or mouth-to-mouth-resuscitation is the recommended first aid, respectively. It is an enduring myth that strike victims retain electrical charge. They do not. There is no hazard posed to a care giver. If the storm's lightning is ongoing and represents a continuing risk to responders, consider moving the victim to a safer location.

Medical authorities recommend that if numerous persons are involved in a lightning incident, treat the apparently dead first -- as many can be revived. Trek medics will have a defibrillator and can begin treatment long before EMS arrives.

-- Jim Perez

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