ATV Safety

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

In the first quarter of 2011, our Unit conducted two body recoveries, both of which were ATV-related.  The simple fact is that the number of ATV-related accidents that we respond to is astounding.

Last Sunday, one Officer and three Mountain Rescue volunteers responded via Huey to a dry lake bed located near Lake Mead.  A 25-year-old female had been riding at speeds of 35-40 MPH when she attempted to make a quick turn, ultimately flying over the handle bars.  She wasn't wearing a helmet and suffered severe head and neck injuries.  As our Unit arrived, we discovered police, ambulance, and flight for life already on scene.

ATV riding is extremely popular in Southern Nevada with an abundance of recreational areas open and available for riders to enjoy.  Unfortunately, there are many riders out there who do not follow general ATV Safety guidelines.  Our Unit highly recommends that riders educate themselves on how to be safe while riding, take rider safety classes, and avoid riding in environments that are above the skill level of the rider.  The ATV Safety Institute lists the following items as the Golden Rules of ATV Riding:
  1. Always wear a DOT-compliant helmet, goggles, long sleeves, long pants, over-the-ankle boots, and gloves.
  2. Never ride on paved roads except to cross when done safely and permitted by law - another vehicle could hit you. ATVs are designed to be operated off-highway.
  3. Never ride under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
  4. Never carry a passenger on a single-rider ATV, and no more than one passenger on an ATV specifically designed for two people.
  5. Ride an ATV that's right for your age.
  6. Supervise riders younger than 16; ATVs are not toys.
  7. Ride only on designated trails and at a safe speed.
  8. Take a hands-on ATV Course.
As mentioned before, our Unit responds to far more ATV-related accidents than we care to admit.  If riders took basic precautions, most of these accidents could be avoided.  Take the time to educate yourself today and stay safe while riding!
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500 Feet

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Yesterday, the Mountain Rescue Team conducted a big wall training session in Ice Box Canyon at Red Rock Canyon. The objective of the mission was to work in a high angle environment that required the team to make contact with a victim that was more than 500 feet below them.

Rescues that involve heights of 200 feet or more require more specialized skill and equipment management.  In order to be prepared for any situation, the team trains above and beyond.

Here's a picture of equipment being short hauled to the upper Landing Zone:

The view of Red Rock from high above Ice Box Canyon:

A total of 6 Rescuers were lowered two at a time to help package and extricate the victim:

If you happened to be in Red Rock yesterday, you may have seen our helicopters in the Red Rock Overlook parking lot, just past Willow Springs.  Not only were we conducting a training session, but a film crew was out taking video of our Unit in action.  According to the film crew, a final version will be ready by the end of the year.  We'll continue to keep you posted on progress!
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Hypothermia vs. Hyperthermia

Monday, May 16, 2011

Hypothermia vs. Hyperthermia - What to look for

Hyperthermia, or Heat Exhaustion/Stroke, occurs when the body's core temperature rises above 100F. In the outdoor environment, most of our patients experience elevated core temperatures when they are exposed to extreme heat. This often occurs in the summer months as temperatures in Southern Nevada rise well above 110F. In many cases, hikers are active in arid environments where they are exposed to direct sunlight and little shade. Minimal water intake and excessive perspiration are also contributing factors.

Signs and Symptoms of Hyperthermia
Red, hot, dry skin are all indicative signs of hyperthermia. If it's hot out and your body has stopped sweating, this is a major sign of dehydration, which may lead to heat stroke. This dehydration can produce nausea, vomiting, headaches, low blood pressure, dizziness, and even fainting. In extreme cases, the person may become confused and even hostile. Respiration and heart rate will increase as the body attempts to distribute as much oxygen as possible.

If the body's core temperature drops below 95F, hypothermia sets in. In most cases, our patients become hypothermic when they do not carry appropriate clothing with them and are exposed to cold temperatures for a long duration of time. As the body's temperature decreases, the person is unable to replenish heat that is being lost.

Signs and Symptoms of Hypothermia
Shivering and an increased heart rate are initial signs, which are both the body's attempt to rise the core body temperature. As the core temperature continues to drop, shivering will become more violent and movement will become slow and labored. In extreme cases, patients will have problems speaking and will have great difficulty in moving about, will be disoriented, and even combative. If skin is exposed, it will become blue and puffy.

What's more Common?
In Southern Nevada, we treat patients with both hyperthermia and hypothermia.  However, hypothermia is more prevalent.  Although temperatures in this region tend to fall in the warm to hot range, the desert becomes very cold at night, especially when wind and minimal shelter are present.  In higher elevations, temperatures often dip below freezing.  Snow, rain, and wind are also contributing factors.  In any case, it's important to carry appropriate clothing and fluids while exposing yourself to the elements.  It's equally as important to know and recognize the signs and symptoms.

Snow in May?
One year ago, LVMPDSAR rescued two hikers who had lost their trail at Mt. Charleston as unexpected weather conditions caused freezing temperatures and snow!  Read all about it here and stay prepared!

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