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Ready For Summertime - Preparedness In Case Of Emergencies

As the height of summer activities fast approach, many people will head for Wyoming's mountains, lakes and rivers in search of adventures. While these places offer a wealth of outdoor activities, they also are the place where many tragic accidents occur each year. Those accidents are often exacerbated by long distances and tough terrain to navigate, something Memorial Hospital of Converse County's Dr. Pat Yost cautions people to remember before heading out on a vacation getaway.

"Remember you're a long ways from help," Yost said. "It really magnifies the severity of the situation."

Whether it's a snake bite, a fall or some other unexpected accident, spending time far away from medical resources requires some careful consideration about preparations and precautions. Besides the distance, sometimes there is limited access to phones and other ways to signal help. Keeping all of those things in mind and being prepared for a possible emergency are some of the best ways to avoid problems and ensure positive outcomes.

"Think twice and be careful while you're there," Yost said.

Memorial Hospital of Converse County Emergency Room's Dr. Ryan Clifford echoes Yost's precautions.

"It may take considerable time for emergency services to reach you – sometimes helicopters cannot land in some areas and ambulances have limitations as well, which require other means of rescue," Clifford said. He also warned people to remember "cell service may be absent or limited and someone may need to travel to notify help." With all of those in mind, when traveling to remote areas, Clifford recommends people to not "take unnecessary risk while in remote areas because of limitations in access to emergency services."

Whether it's packing extra water or donning additional layers of clothing before leaving camp, taking a little extra time to prepare can turn into a lifesaving measure under the right circumstances. In Wyoming, it's important to be prepared for any type of weather. Even in summer, the Wyoming weather can go from hot to cold quickly.

"It's important to keep in mind the weather changes very quickly," Yost said. "Be prepared for the weather with rain gear or a bivvy sack. Be aware of the weather and stay away from danger points."

Every year someone in Wyoming is killed from lightning strikes, Yost said, so being on the lookout for incoming storms could be a life saver. And with fast moving storms, hypothermia is something to consider even in the summer time. With quick weather changes, it's easy to get chilled during a rainstorm.

Should an injury occur, Yost said it's important to stabilize the injury quickly and get help rapidly as well.

"Stabilize an injury any way you can," Yost said. "Duct taping is actually great. It's pretty good stuff to have with you."

Since many people will be near or on lakes and rivers boating and fishing, Yost said it's important to take proper precautions there as well. While local pools have lifeguards on duty who are trained in lifesaving skills, lakes and rivers are without many safeguards. Wearing proper floatation devices and following all water safety standards are keys to ensuring a safe water adventure.

And Clifford cautioned that wild animals can be a threat as well. Bears, especially mothers with cubs will be on the defensive and other animals such as rattle snakes and moose can be equally dangerous.

"Consider wildlife that may be potentially dangerous," Clifford said.

So whether it's boating, fishing, hiking or some other summer outdoor adventure, Yost and Clifford offer a few additional safety tips:

  • Never go alone.
  • Plan ahead.
  • Get started early.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Let someone know where you're going.
  • Bring basic supplies, such as water and food.
  • Consider wildlife that may be potentially dangerous such as rattlesnakes, bears, moose and others.
  • Be prepared for changes in weather.
  • Take an adequate supply of prescription medications.

If you or someone you're with are seriously injured while in a remote area, here's a few basic life saving measures to remember:

  • Open the airway if the injured person is in a position that compromises breathing.
  • Limit movement if severely injured to limit further injury or pain.
  • Keep warm if exposed to the elements.

Memorial Hospital of Converse County wishes everyone a safe and fun summer!