FONT & AUDIO
Injured outdoors? 911 may not be able help
This summer a record number of people are flocking into Oregon parks and wilderness to enjoy nature.
Most people don't realize that when they leave the city they have greatly reduced access to lifesaving medical care due to Oregon's limited trauma and injury support system in rural areas.
In fact, your risk of fatality increases nearly 50 percent if seriously injured outside of a major metropolitan area. Accidents are more common than you think.
"The highest accident mortality rates in the country are in rural states like Oregon. The challenge from a public health standpoint is to try and reverse this and give people a chance who are injured in a rural car accident, farming accident or in the wilderness," said Dr. Bill Long, co-chair of Oregon Trauma Education Foundation.
"Lack of cell phone coverage, inability of medical response teams to get to remote places quickly, and limited trauma training for medical personnel in rural areas all affect how quickly one can get the care needed."
The orthopedic surgeons at Go To Ortho are the on-call trauma surgeons for Legacy Emanuel Hospital and are active in Oregon Trauma Research and Education Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to addressing the need for additional resources and trauma care training for first responders and rural Oregon hospitals.
Many people prepare for a hike by filling up their water bottle, tying a hoodie around their waist and spraying on some bug repellant. They're totally unprepared for an accident.
The first-aid kit in your car is no help if you can't get to it. Go To Ortho aims to help prepare citizens for an accident and share information on how to treat an injury.
Dr. Corey Vande Zandschulp, co-founder of Go To Ortho and a specialist in trauma care, suggests bringing a few extra supplies to be prepared for an accident when you go into the outdoors, including gauze, elastic bandage, tourniquet, protein food pouch, water purifying tablets, flashlight, emergency blanket and instant cold pack.
These items are small and lightweight. Put them in a sealable plastic bag and keep them in your hiking bag and another in your glove compartment of your car.
There are a few other simple precautions you can take:Let a friend or family member know where you are hiking. Plan on checking in with them when you get home. Consider using a walking stick or hiking pole to maintain your balance while hiking on rough, uneven terrain. If you are heading into the backcountry, remember that you will most likely lose cell service. It's a wise idea to invest in a personal locator beacon or satellite messenger. Consider taking a first-aid class at your local community college or a Wilderness First Responder course.
Many injuries are not life threatening, but can still cause significant problems if you are alone in the wilderness, no one knows where you are, and you can't walk out.
A bleeding injury is no laughing matter — it needs to be dealt with immediately. If you or a companion are bleeding, you need to:Stop the bleeding by applying firm pressure with a clean gauze for at least 15 minutes. If you need to add more gauze, do not remove the original gauze.
While applying pressure, elevate the injury.
You may need to wrap a bandage tightly around the wound to hold the gauze in place. This should not be as tight as a tourniquet — you should be able to slide two fingers under the bandage.Use a tourniquet for profuse bleeding. If the wound is large and bleeding profusely or if continued pressure does not stop the bleeding, there is a real risk of death. Do not wait to apply a tourniquet. Prevent or deal with shock by wrapping the injured person in a sleeping bag, jacket or silver emergency blanket. Keep them hydrated and talk to them to help keep them calm and awake. Get help. This is the time to use your personal locator beacon or satellite messenger.
"We want people to know that planning ahead for an accident is important," said Steve Madey, an orthopedic surgeon and partner in Go To Ortho. "You can't be rushed to the ER and have a top-notch team of surgeons on site to do your emergency surgery."
Learn more at GoToOrtho.com.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.