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SWAMP and Hillsborough County Fire Rescue (HCFR) hosted a trail-side first aid training session with first responders from HCFR Station 22 who reviewed tools, techniques and special considerations when responding to calls at Boyette Scrub Preserve and Alafia State Park.

Their guidance clarified how to be prepared and what your role is should you find a rider in need of help.

Objectives of a Trail First Aid provider

  • Provide lifesaving first aid if necessary.

  • Stabilize non-life-threatening injuries to prevent injury aggravation or escalation.

  • Coordinate professional medical resources to address injuries and extraction.

How to be prepared:

  • Knowledge and training are the most effective Trail First Aid resources a mountain biker can have at their disposal. Consider obtaining First Aid certification through the American Red Cross.  

  • Download the American Red Cross First Aid app.

  • Carry an effective First Aid Kit that includes hemostatic gauze, bandage/wrap, compression bandage, and tourniquet.

  • Familiarize yourself with how to quickly view location coordinates on your phone.

Life-Threatening Conditions
Objective: Avoid Loss of Life

When you encounter a rider in some form of distress, it is critical to quickly assess if a life-threatening condition exists. The most likely life-threatening conditions to be encountered include:

  • Allergies & Anaphylaxis

  • Bleeding

  • Cardiac Arrest

  • Heart Attack

  • Heat Stroke

These conditions must be assessed and addressed as quickly as possible by calling 911 and following First Aid procedures which may include performing CPR, contain bleeding or assisting in administering life-saving medication.

Important to Remember: Don't Provide Medications

Life-threatening conditions such as anaphylaxis can be treated by medications; however, only qualified medical personnel can administer medication not already prescribed or in the possession of the individual experiencing the condition. You may only assist the individual in administering the medication.

Non-Life-Threatening Conditions
Objective: Avoid Escalation of Condition

When it is determined that the rider's injuries or condition are not life-threatening, your objective is to ensure that their condition does not deteriorate into a more significant, life-threatening condition.

The most likely non-life-threatening conditions to be encountered include:

Broken Bones

Concussion & Head Injury

Cuts and Minor Bleeding


Heat Exhaustion

Stings and Bites

Strains and Sprains

Examples of condition escalation may include broken bones that upon movement, perforate an artery and result in traumatic bleeding or heat exhaustion that escalates into heat stroke.

These conditions must be assessed and addressed as quickly as possible by following First Aid procedures and calling 911 as needed.

In non-life-threatening scenarios, competent Trail First Aid provider must be able to assess the severity of the injury or condition, stabilize an injury, and keep the injured individual calm and safe.

Location and Extraction
Objective: Communicate Location

In addition to attending to the injured individual's condition, those providing Trail First Aid may need to coordinate location and extraction efforts. If another individual is available to render assistance, they should be assigned the tasks of contacting authorities (call 911) and communicating location information and the condition and injuries of the individual. This allows one person to focus their efforts and attention on the injured while the other person(s) coordinate professional medical resources.

In order to direct professional medical resources to the location of the injured individual, 911 personal need to know and relay as much information as possible to the responding units.

These data points include:

  • Common name of riding area and address.

  • Parking or trailhead name and location.

  • Specific name of trail or segment and any additional rescue or fire road signage.

  • Latitude and longitude

When using a phone app to determine location information, it is helpful to "screenshot" the location display when you are with the injured person. This will allow you to reference the location information if you have moved or if you need to share with others who are assisting in guiding responding units.

Don't Attempt to Extract Individual

Responding units will have the training and equipment needed to extract the injured individual without causing further injury. They are also capable of evaluating the terrain and other challenges to determine what additional resources are needed. If the injured individual's condition improves, they should be encouraged to remain in a calm and stable condition and await professional medical personnel. Do not attempt to restrain the individual if they become resistant.

Legal Protection for those Providing First Aid

According to the Florida Good Samaritan Act, “any person, including those licensed to practice medicine” who willingly, and in good faith, provides emergency care or treatment to another in an emergency situation shall not be liable for any civil damages as a result of such aid or treatment.

So be prepared, don't try to do more than you are trained to do, and be familiar with how to call for help and communicate your location. Be safe out there!


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