Recently I participated in a refresher course for both CPR and First Aid. I am a member of a very large church. We have a medical response team available for every service and event. Although my veterinary training has rendered me more medically savvy than the average bear, I consider myself more of a “gopher” than a licensed first responder. The team leaders are physicians, nurses, EMT’s, or other human medical providers. However, my CPR and First Aid refresher courses were very good. It was not lost on me that someday I might need those skills on the trail.
One of the many items covered in the First Aid class was the use of epi pens for bee sting allergies. Although it has never happened to me, one of my worst nightmares is riding over a nest of ground bees! I have heard horror stories about that. We also talked about stabilizing broken bones, signs of shock, severe lacerations and bleeding, complications of diabetes, and many other medical conditions or emergencies.
Of course, the First Aid class was about humans. Clearly, I also have a vested interest in animal health and well-being. When I was in practice I focused on small animals. However, I have had horses since I was 8 years old (except for most of my college years.)
My veterinary career was sidelined when I started a local support group that grew into a national nonprofit organization. (www.attachtrauma.org) As a result of that career detour, even my veterinary medicine is rusty, so I benefited greatly from the CPR and First Aid refresher course.
I try and carry emergency items with me on the trail. Most of what I have tried to pack in the past was more about equine injury. I have been known to have a diaper and vet wrap in my saddlebag in the event of a leg injury. Every so often I run across a list of “what to have in your trailer” and “what to have in your saddlebag”. The truth is, I fail dismally in really being prepared on the trail.
I spent two summers riding in the Rocky Mountains, occasionally by myself. I rode in a familiar and popular area of the National Forest. However, I sprung for one of the more expensive Garmin GPS units because it gave me the ability to tap into the park ranger radio frequency in the event of an emergency. My phone signal was spotty at best!
I hope I never need to utilize the information I relearned in my refresher courses. I try to be smart about how I ride, where I ride, and who I ride. Also, I wear a helmet. But accidents happen! I am comforted by the fact that now my saddle tag provides emergency information for first responders. They would have critical information about me even if I am not able to speak or advocate for myself.