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Activity and Outing Emergencies/Safety Issues

What Will You Do?
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1) You are outside walking with a group of patients. A dog comes up and one of the patient pets him. Another dog comes up and starts a dog fight. Unfortunately, the patient tries to separate the dogs and gets attacked by both dogs. What will you do?

The safest way to break up a dogfight requires 2 people. Each person grabs the back feet of one of the dogs. The dog is picked up like a wheelbarrow. With the legs up, both dogs are then pulled apart. Once they break apart, it is critical that the people do not release the dogs or the fight will begin again. They need to start to turning in a circle, or slowly swinging the dogs in a circle while they back away from the other dog. This stops the dog from curling and coming back and biting the person holding their legs.

2) What will you do if a black bear attacks your group?

If a grizzly or black bear charges, do not run. As the Colorado Division of Wildlife's bear expert Tom Beck explained, "If you run from a black bear, two things are certain. It will chase you and it will catch you." Black bears bluff charge about 99.99 percent of the time. Grizzlies also false charge, sometimes up to three or four times. However, if the bear makes contact, you must know how to react, and the strategy is different for black and grizzly bears.

If a black bear makes contact, it is usually a "predatory" attack and may occur abruptly or unprovoked, e.g., while you are sleeping in your tent. The only way to deal with this type of attack is to fight with anything you have. You need to convince the bear to give up on you and look for easier prey.

If a grizzly attacks, experts suggest that you curl up, face down on the ground and cover your head. Leave your backpack on your back. Pull your knees toward your jaw to protect vital organs. Lay still and do not scream or fight back. If the bear stops perceiving you as a threat, it will stop the attack. When the attack stops see if the bear is still in the area. If it is, continue to play dead. If a grizzly does a predacious attack (in the middle of the night, for example) fight back.

3) What will you do if attacked by a mountain lion?

Mountain lions are efficient predators that ambush their prey after lying in wait or after a short stalk. In Colorado, there have been two fatal mountain lion attacks on humans in the last 100 years. When prey runs in front of a lion, the lion is stimulated to attack. Therefore, it is extremely important that you do not run if you encounter a mountain lion. Since lions are typically interested in an "easy meal," make yourself look formidable by raising your backpack or opening your coat and facing the lion; do not turn your back. If attacked, fight back. Use sticks, stones, items you are carrying in your pockets or your bare hands. Lone joggers, children and small adults are at greater risk of attack. Hike or jog with a friend. If you hike with children, keep them with you at all times.

4) One of your patient is bitten by a rattlesnake. What will you do?

  • Remain calm and take deep breaths to relax yourself.
  • Try to move slowly toward a telephone and call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number.
  • DO NOT try to capture or kill the snake; it will probably just bite you again.
  • DO NOT apply a tourniquet.
  • DO NOT cut the bite.
  • DO NOT try to suck out the poison.
  • DO NOT apply heat or cold to change the temperature of the bitten area.
  • DO NOT apply electricity to your body.
  • DO NOT apply meat tenderizer or other home remedies to the bite.
  • DO NOT take any food, medications or alcohol.
  • DO NOT remove any bandage that has been in place for a while. If bandages are too tight(no detectable pulse beyond the bandage), they should be loosened but not removed.
  • Stop any severe bleeding with direct pressure to the wound. (Severe bleeding is rare, but you can expect even minor bites to ooze watery blood.)
  • Contact local emergency medical personnel.
  • A mechanical suction device may be of some value if used immediately.
  • If no emergency medical care is available, get yourself to the nearest medical treatment facility- but keep calm, walk rather than run, drive safely rather than race.
  • You were probably bitten on the hand or arm. Keep that arm down at your side- do not elevate it, even though elevating it may seem to relieve the pain. If you were bitten on the leg or foot, do not lie down for any length of time - try to stay on your feet or seated. Keep the bite below your heart.
  • Some specialists recommend an ace bandage, applied without excess pressure above and below the bite, for rattlesnake bites.
  • Once you reach the hospital, the physician will complete the steps necessary to administer the antivenom and monitor your progress.


5) You are out in an open field when a lightning storm hits. What will you and your patients do?

If you are isolated in an open area and you feel your hair stand on end (which indicates that lightning is about to strike), bend forward, putting your hands on your knees.

Do not lie flat on the ground.

If no structure is available, get to an open space and squat low to the ground, with hands on knees as quickly as possible. (If in the woods, find an area protected by low clump of trees -- never stand underneath a single large tree in the open.)

On a nationwide basis, lightning kills more people than any other weather phenomena except flooding. 80 per cent of people hit by lightning do recover, but nearly a quarter of them suffer major after effects.

6) You are travelling along a lonely long stretch of desert road in Arizona. The van breaks down and you haven't seen another vehicle in hours. The temperature is 125 degrees and everyone is getting dehydrated. How will you get water in the desert?

You should bring plenty of water if you are travelling in the desert!

Desert solar stills, a customary inclusion in most survival manuals, are marginally effective at best and should be considered a last resort. This involves digging a hole in sandy soil, covering and suspending clear plastic into it and collecting water which condenses on the plastic in a container at the bottom. Water lost digging and preparing one generally cannot be recouped by its output.

Using clear plastic or clear plastic bags as a "transpiration" collector can be a better bet if leafed bushes exist, though even they often only work marginally when you need it the most. Wrapping the clear plastic around green foliage and tying it tight traps the moisture given up naturally by transpiration and increases output because of the trapped solar heat. A rock in the bag or tying it down makes a low point for the water to collect. Barrel and other cactus are also highly overrated as a potential water source. At many times of the year, the only reliable source of water in the desert is the water you bring along. Sad to say, but even in the most remote wilderness, water from natural sources like streams and springs must be considered contaminated. Before consumption it should be purified, if at all possible, by boiling, chemical treatment or filtering. In North America, generally, bringing water to a rolling boil is a sure bet. Contrary to popular myth, it is not necessary to boil water for extended periods or for even longer at higher elevations. Simply bringing it to a boil is all that is necessary to kill those bacteria, cysts and other nasties which can be killed by such temperatures. and

7) You and your group are playing a game when one of your patient loses a tooth due to an impact injury. What can you do to save his tooth?

It's important to retrieve the tooth, hold it by the crown, and rinse off the root of the tooth if it's dirty. Do not scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments. If possible, put the tooth back in its socket. If that isn't possible, put it in a container with milk or water and then get to the dentist as soon as possible.

8) You and your group find a pond that has iced over. Do you venture to walk out on it? How thick should the ice be before you can safely traverse it?

Only walk across areas of at least 4 inches of clear, solid ice. Remember, though, that even if ice is a foot thick in one area on a lake, it can be one inch thick just a few yards away.

Snowmobiles need at least 5 inches of ice, and cars and light trucks need at least 8-12 inches of good clear ice.

For additional information about ice safety go to

9) Your local resort/recreation center has a hot tub. What are some of the dangers you need to be aware of in regards to hot tubs?

The main hazard from hot tubs and spas is the same hazard involved with swimming pool drowning. The CPSC has reports of more than 700 deaths since 1980, with about one-third of those deaths due to the drowning of children under age five.

There have been several deaths from extremely hot water (over 110ºF) in a spa. High temperatures can cause drowsiness, which may lead to unconsciousness, resulting in drowning. Raised body temperature can also lead to heat stroke and death.

There have been at least 18 incidents since 1980, that the CPSC is aware of, in which parts of the body have been entrapped by the strong suction of the drain of pools, wading pools, spas, and hot tubs. Of these incidents, 10 resulted in disembowelment and 5 other people died.

Since 1978, CPSC has reports of 49 incidents (including 13 deaths) in which people's hair was sucked into the suction fitting of a spa, hot tub, or whirlpool, causing the victim's head to held underwater.

For additional info go to


Additional Resources

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