Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Nightmarish run? It could happen to you

Ever gone out for a morning run and wound up in the ER? No? Me neither. Not many of us have.

In fact, I'd never even known a runner who had a mishap while out on the road -- until two Saturdays ago.

The scenario was this: I went out with a dozen or so people from my running group with a loose plan to do about 12 or 13 miles. My knee had been giving me a little trouble thanks to some interval training a few days earlier, so I was toward the back of the pack.

Not long after coming over the top of a reasonably big hill, I saw one of the guys come to a stop about 150 yards ahead of my subgroup; he hunched over as if out of breath for maybe three seconds, then took two steps, and dropped like a sack of sweet potatoes.

We rushed to his aid to find he'd sustained many cuts to his head and body as a result of the fall, but worse, that he was unconscious and unresponsive. We could barely detect his pulse, and his lips started turning blue. Fortunately, a nearby cop was flagged down quickly, a motorist loaned us two cellphones to call 911, and by some small miracle, we run with a nurse who was able to administer CPR.

Moments later, medics arrived, stabilized him, and set the guy on a path toward a happy ending: He was treated at the hospital and released, with medical tests revealing no significant findings.

Anyway, I bring this all up because it's a good segue into a recommendation for Road ID. It's a $20 identification tag popular among runners and cyclists that can be engraved with your name, emergency phone numbers, and medical info like allergies and blood type. (I have a wristband, but there are also belt, ankle and other styles. After the incident, several runners in our group vowed to make it a priority to order their own.)

A Road ID -- or something like it -- could be useful for people who run with a partner or a group; if you get struck by a car, faint from exhaustion, fall, etc., your companion(s) can more easily track down loved ones and disseminate information to first responders. (In my group's case, the fallen runner had his info on dog tags, and we had no problem reaching his wife via cellphone number listed.)

And if you're running alone, an accessory like Road ID could be VITAL. For obvious reasons.

I'm not asking you to run out and spend your money on this thing just because I think it's a good idea. I'm asking you to remember that you never know when your morning run could turn into a trip to the ER -- that it's better to have the info on you and not need it, than to need the info and not have it.

Do you run with any ID, or do you not bother? Got stories of scary running-related medical emergencies? Any similar or related products you want to recommend? Do you have other safety tips for runners? Please share.


Anonymous said...
sells a useful med info holder for bicyclists and motorcyclists. It sticks to your helmet.

Chad R. said...

I also (usually) wear a Road ID dog tag during my runs, especially the long runs, when I'm likely to be far away from my house. Not are they good for runners and cyclists, they also make good presents for those who are handicapped and cannot communicate.

Anonymous said...

I think this also shows the importance of running with people, or at least running where people are near-by if you need help. And also, everyone should learn CPR! You never know when you will need it. Glad to hear this guy is OK.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, explain how an ID can save you again? Can it do CPR? Stop a car? Stop a bullet? All it does is help the police ID you faster. It's not vital unless you are allergic to medicines that they may administer to you in an emergency.

Anonymous said...

To the previous poster, a Road ID can give paramedics the info they need for immediate treatment(allergies, blood type, medical conditions) and also provides a contact so that your family can make medical decisions if you are unable to. To me that's a lot better than lying in the hospital for hours as a John Doe.