How to Apply First Aid for Runners
Because danger never takes a vacation.
You’re running along a remote trail. Suddenly, you spot a runner slumped on the ground. What’s your reaction? Call for help. But, what if you’ve left your mobile behind and nobody is nearby to supply one?
This situation won’t alarm you if you have learned first aid and undertaken some basic training. Instead, you’ll be equipped to sort out many types of situations - using supplies that are unorthodox but effective.
You should also know that Singapore’s Ministry of Health is just as concerned about runners. The government has published a white paper discussing medical intervention at mass-participation running events and it includes a graph showing the most common health crises associated with running in Singapore.
Once you learn these specific emergencies you will be better equipped to do some triage until help arrives—and you’re declared an official hero!
1. Always tote a roll of athletic tape for an impromptu ankle injury.
This tip comes from Liza Howard, a wilderness medical instructor with several U.S. field schools.
She urges runners to learn more about the different ways athletic tape can be used to wrap a foot and/or ankle so the injured party can be helped and even continue to walk without further injury. She also uses athletic tape for cuts and gashes that won’t stop bleeding!
2. Stick a pair of toenail clippers and tweezers in your kit, too.
A small toenail clipper will feel like a miracle if you failed to attend to a painful nail before you began your run and can trim it on the fly.
This simple action can make a difference between finishing your run and limping to the trail’s end. Tweezers are irreplaceable for pulling out a foreign body that is deeply embedded in the skin.
3. Ever heard of an irrigation syringe?
You should, because this handy medicinal tool is plastic, weighs next to nothing and costs only a dollar or two, so adding one to your supply arsenal just makes sense.
If you come upon a runner who has something embedded in his foot, fill the syringe from your water bottle and aim a jet of water at whatever is clogging the wound. This simple action can stop an infection from taking hold.
4. Duct tape.
Don’t think this belongs in a first aid kit? Tell that to runners who have used duct tape to pull splinters and needles out of their feet after they’ve run through, for example, a pine forest.
You already know that, in an emergency, duct tape wrapped around a shoe that’s falling apart at the most inopportune time is a lifesaver for a quick repair job and we’ve heard of runners who used duct tape as an impromptu bandage.
5. Trash bags to the rescue.
Trash bags serve many first aid purposes when large areas of the body require attention and they weigh almost nothing. Imagine coming upon a runner who passed out and may be in shock, especially if temperatures have plummeted.
A trash bag can also keep your body temperature from dropping if you happen to be stuck in the wilderness. In a pinch, use a trash bag as a tourniquet to slow down blood loss, too.
6. CPR training.
Giving someone CPR is like giving them a new life if you’re out on the trail and there’s nobody around to jumpstart a runner's breathing as a result of an injury, heart attack or another medical emergency. Plan to renew your certification bi-annually, so you’re always prepared.
7. A topical pain reliever.
Small, roll-on bottles solutions that have the power to “freeze” an area to relieve nagging muscle pain can be indispensable if you’ve no other painkiller in your first aid kit and you need enough temporary relief to get yourself or another runner back to civilization.
These products are small, lightweight and can be effective for up to six hours.
8. Learn to recognize signs of heat stroke.
Especially if it's a hot, muggy Singapore day. Sunscreen protects the skin, but what protects your organs, muscle and tissue?
Tell-tale signs of heat stroke are headache, rapid breathing and/or heart rate, nausea, vomiting, flushed skin, an altered mental state, sweating and high body temperature. Anything you can do to cool down the runner fast will be much appreciated.
Again, this slim, virtually weightless health aid confirms diagnoses of infection and heatstroke and takes so little room in a first aid kit, it simply makes sense to include one on your supply list.
Just make sure the thermometer you choose is a non-mercury, non-glass type for obvious reasons.
10. Antibacterial salve.
De-breeding a wound takes a minute using the irrigation syringe mentioned earlier in this article, but after you wash the area - and before you cover it with a Band-Aid, a trash bag section or duct tape - prevent infection by applying antibacterial salve.
It's powerful enough to start healing the affected area immediately.
Have you been injured while running and no help was in sight - or have you encountered someone on a trail in need of first aid? Tell us what happened and what you did to help.