A short time ago, I had the pleasure of talking with an emergency services veteran at one of the largest amusement parks (Walt Disney World) in the country about first aid and how people can be well prepared for their experiences.  He had some interesting things to say, especially about large groups.

Groups (church, school, etc)

When traveling with a group of unrelated minors,  there is almost certainly going to be a stack of “medical release” papers, one for each child.  When visiting a theme park of any stripe, one of the adult leaders of the group should take the medical releases to the First Aid station and leave them there, in the event that something bad happens.  Why leave them at first aid?  i’m glad that you asked!

By taking the filled-out paperwork to the first aid station, the leader in question becomes familiar with the location, in the event that something happens.  More importantly, the first aid staff has the signed parental release so that they can begin treatment immediately.  In many cases, first aid staff will not even touch a minor without a parental release.  If the staff as the release in a central location, it’s easy enough for them to find the paperwork and begin treatment even if the minor is not accompanied with the leader who is carrying the paperwork!

Everybody else

For everybody else, he had a few good points to make as well, like “continue to take your medications just like you do at home!”  Just because you are on vacation does not mean that you can stop taking your asthma medicine, diabetes medicine, heart medicine, seizure medicine, what have you.  Your health conditions do not stay at home when you go on vacation.  In fact, the additional stress (although it’s usually “good” stress) of being on vacation can make any chronic health condition more difficult to manage.

Maintain any special dietary restrictions that you have at home.  If you are a diabetic, partaking heavily in Mickey bars, churros and Dole Whips while in the Magic Kingdom just isn’t a good idea, for example.  However, with a little careful planning, you can enjoy the treat options along with everybody else.

Drink plenty of water!  Leaving your familiar surroundings and going to another climate (especially in the Summer months) changes the amount of water that you need in order to stay healthy.  Soda pop, beer, and wine do not make adequate replacement for water consumption.  In fact, drinking them can cause you to become dehydrated faster than you normally would, especially if you are out and about in more heat and humidity than you are familiar with.

Drinking water is especially important in the hot months of Summer and Autumn, where the heat and humidity often combine to make an often sweltering and occasionally dangerous combination.  During the EPCOT(r) Food and Wine festival, there are no shortage of medical class for folks who… Um… Have too much fun, would be one way to phrase it.  From the end of September through Memorial Day (Nov 11) a great number of the calls are for alcohol over-indulgence.  For goodness’ sake, if you’re going to drink, match it one-for-one with water to make sure that you don’t end up accidentally dehydrating yourself.

All together now

Taking a trip to a theme park is always exciting and often enjoyable.  Taking a little bit of preparation and planning can keep you from having a less than stellar time.  Do you have any tips for making your trip safe and enjoyable?  Let me know!