There are first aid stations throughout the course of a triathlon, but it’s always a good idea to take some first aid items with you in case you need a quick fix while running or cycling.Below are some tips for creating your first aid bag or pouch, as well as some quick first aid fixes.
Whether it’s training or the real deal, you’ll want to have some first aid supplies with you. Pack a few bandages and a small tube of antiseptic in your hydration belt so you’re prepared for minor scrapes and cuts along the way – and don’t forget the sunscreen.Beyond those basic essentials, having a more complete first aid kit with you can come in quite handy when you encounter an injury that’s more than the usual cut or scrape. A few things to pack in a first aid bag include:
Some other helpful things to include are blister pads or moleskin, latex gloves, and a card with your emergency contact information. If you do have a chronic medical condition or an allergy to bee stings, medication, or anything else you might encounter, a medical alert tag can let others know about your condition so that appropriate treatment can be administered. Finally, always carry a fully charged cell phone or smartphone so that you can call for help if you or another athlete is injured and needs immediate medical treatment. (It’s also handy if you get lost along the way.)
There are several common minor injuries that can occur during a triathlon or training, and knowing how to handle those situations will prove useful. If you notice a cut that is deep or will not stop bleeding, it is a good idea to stop and take care of it. Use an antiseptic and a gauze pad and apply pressure to stop the bleeding, then apply a bandage and get back on the road. You can help prevent blisters by wearing socks made of synthetic, moisture-wicking materials. If you already have a blister, apply a blister pad. If you twist an ankle, remember the acronym RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Keep your shoe on, as it can act as a compression. If the ankle is affecting your running gait, you may need to cut the run short so you can have the injury properly treated. If you cannot put any pressure on your foot, you need to get help. Apply bug repellant before the running and cycling portions of the triathlon. If you get a wasp or bee sting, remove the stinger and clean the injury with antiseptic pads. Take some Benadryl to help with the itching and any minor allergic response you may have. If you become short of breath, experience swelling, or have any other serious allergy reactions, these are emergency situations, contact first aid/911 immediately. Road rash is probably the most common injury in cycling. If you’re out on the road and need to take care of a minor road rash, wash it with your antiseptic and clean it out with the wipe as much as possible. If you have DuoDERM, use that to cover the wound; if not, use whatever bandage you have handy. When the race is over, have first aid take a look at the injury.
You’ve trained for your triathlon, you’ve got a first aid bag/pouch ready to go, but there is one other thing you should do if time allows – and particularly if you participate in triathlons or other sporting events regularly: Take a first aid and CPR course. Yes, there are first aid stations throughout the race, but first aid may not be able to get to you right away. Plus, by taking a first aid and CPR course you are picking up skills that you can use to help others, and you might even save a life.
Julia Merrill is a retired board-certified nurse practitioner. Over the course of her 30-year career, she strived to bridge the communication gap between those seeking the best medical care and those working to provide it. She created BefriendYourDoc.org with the goal of sharing tips and insights into finding the right medical care, dealing with insurance companies, and ways for everyone to better maintain their own health and wellness.