By Sheila Reesor
Even during the summer months, the Canadian Ski Patrol is there to help you play safely
When winter is over, Canadian Ski Patrol (CSP) volunteers may hang up their skis, but they continue to offer their first aid skills to outdoor enthusiasts and athletes. During the summer, CSP members volunteer at events ranging from local 5K runs to international marathons, cycling races and beach volleyball tournaments.
In the line of duty, these first responders treat a range of summer-related injuries and illnesses that include everything from heat stroke to sunburn. Dehydration and heat-related illness are very common, particularly during all-day, endurance or competitive outdoor activities in the heat. Many sports enthusiasts forget that basic hydration begins with water and starts days before an event.
Respiratory issues are also common in summer and often connected to existing conditions like asthma or allergies. That’s why it’s important for participants to wear a medic-alert tag, carry medication and write their medical history or details of any illness on the back of their race bib. This is the first place patrollers will look for information if, for any reason, a patient can’t communicate.
Other common injuries result from falling, tripping or colliding with other people or objects. Accidents happen and can result in broken limbs, dislocated joints, concussions, contusions, sprains and deeper wounds.
Fortunately, serious injuries are rare. More common are skin irritations and injuries such as cuts, scrapes, stings, blisters, chafing and friction burns (often, unfortunately, in tender areas). The key to treating these types of wounds is effective assessment, cleaning and covering. The ultimate goal is to reduce pain and the risk of infection.
Most active people can quickly address superficial injuries and continue their activity. One exception is sunburn, which can put a stop to any outdoor fun. Another activity-limiting injury is burned feet, which can occur at beach volleyball tournaments. It’s not unusual to see second-degree burns on the bottom of players’ feet – being barefoot on scalding hot sand can mean “game over.”
For elite athletes and sports enthusiasts alike, the key to staying in the game or getting to the finish line unscathed has to do with prevention, preparation and planning. There are always a few who didn’t train, wore brand new runners, forgot their asthma puffer at home, didn’t dress for the weather, consumed unfamiliar gel packs, participated in spite of having pneumonia or knew they shouldn’t run on that recent injury.
Nevertheless, most participants do show up hydrated and fuelled, lathered in sunscreen and well prepared to take on the terrain, distance, altitude or weather conditions. Without doubt, their skin takes less of a beating and they have the most fun.
Sheila Reesor is a freelance writer and director of communications for the Canadian Ski Patrol. Most weekends you will find her helping injured people on the slopes or at summer sporting events.
Canadian Ski Patrol
The Canadian Ski Patrol (CSP) is a national, not-for-profit charitable organization with 4,500 nationally certified, federally accredited volunteer members. With nearly 75 years of experience in providing first aid, injury prevention and rescue services to 230 ski resorts across Canada, the CSP is well known for providing services at outdoor sport and recreation events year-round. See www.skipatrol.ca for more information.
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