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What would you do if you found somebody unconscious in the forest?

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On 7th April, at a large Orienteering Event in Highland Perthshire (JK), I thought my biggest challenge would be improving the pace at which I could accurately complete my course. However, about 15 minutes into my run a much greater challenge came into view. Two other orienteers had just found a young competitor lying unconscious on the forest floor.

 

They quickly established she had no obvious signs of injury and got her lying flat. I joined them and we could see she was not moving or responding. She was very pale and had no pulse. I shouted and shook her shoulders but there was no change so I whacked her in the centre of her chest with my fist. What a relief to see an instant twitch of her lips and a flush of pink, then more movement as if she was waking up from a sleep. My arms relaxed; I’d been ready to start CPR to the rhythm of ‘Stayin’ Alive’.

Another orienteer saw us and offered help, running back to the start to alert the helpers and activate the First Aid team. A doctor teammate of the others stopped too. We were now chatting to our ‘patient’. After some time with ongoing attention, warm clothes, water, jelly beans and a space blanket, she was able to walk safely to the waiting Red Cross 4x4. During that time I lost track of the number of runners that asked if we needed extra help.

In times when the media can seem full of bad news, we got a Good News story with a happy ending. People worry about what they would do if they found somebody in need of Basic Life Support. It could happen at any time.  For me, this story shows the importance of individuals being prepared to stop, assess the situation, ask for help and have a go. It also highlights the importance of event organisers making effective First Aid provision, as they did excellently in Perthshire. Thirdly, the charities and organisations that do so much to promote CPR skills run courses and campaigns; think of the Vinnie Jones TV advert, and read more about it on the British Heart Foundation website.

In a forest up a track in the highlands, people stopped, had a go and made a difference. You could too.

Caroline Hornby (Moravian Orienteers)
aka Dr Pears

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Photo of authorPosted on 18th Apr 12
by Admin -

 

Dick Carmichael says:

In 1994 I was controller at WMOC Aviemore Docharn & Deisher a swede 80 year old lady died on her course. The local press lambasted us for letting veterans out unattended in a big forest. A year later at day one 1995 Scottish six day my Tinto club mate Mike Foreman ,then only 50, who had been my start official, as we dealt with that crisis, had a heart attack in the same forest at almost the same place. He had said 12 months earlier “no finer place for an orienteer to die”
There are very few deaths in orienteering but the JK day 2 events illustrate how aware we must all be at all times!
I have ,as controller, rescued broken hips and ankles and run in 3 races where people have died in 39 years. We should all be aware of the dangers and ready to help!

Posted by Dick Carmichael on 20th Apr 12 at 10:04 PM

 

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