SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — On Tuesday, two children fell into a ravine in Badlands National Park while hiking near a campsite. Two days before that, a boy fell 12 feet from a rock formation in Custer State Park.
In both of these incidents, children sustained injuries from their falls. This highlights the importance of practicing safety while hiking, especially with children.
Custer County Search and Rescue was in charge of evacuating the child injured in the Sunday fall. KELOLAND News spoke with Teresa Obenauer, Public Information Officer for the Custer County Office of Emergency Management, who talked about staying safe amid some dangerous terrain.
“Custer County, having Custer State Park and the Sylvan Lake area, is very popular in the summer, but it’s also home to some of our most treacherous trails,” said Obenauer. “One of those is Sunday Gulch.”
Sunday Gulch is the location of the Sunday fall in which the child struck their head and had to be carried out of the area.
“Accidents happen,” said Obenauer, “but parents need to be aware when you’re in the hills, you really really need to pay attention to what your children are doing, because there are so many hidden dangers out there, so don’t your children run out ahead of you.”
Obenauer says that parents need to be aware of the potential danger on trails that they plan to hike.
“The number one rule is always know where your child is,” Obenaur said. “Don’t let them run off ahead of you, because you don’t know what lies ahead.”
In terms of drop-offs, Obenauer says that she recommends being overly cautious. “Don’t let your kids get too close to the edge if there’s even an opportunity that there could be an accident — a lot of its common sense,” she said.
Falls can result in a range of injuries, from bruises and scrapes, all the way up to fractures, concussions and even death. “It just all depends on how you land and what you land on,” said Obenauer.
In the event that someone does fall, your actions depend on your location and the severity of the injury.
“We’ve had injuries already this summer where there’ve been some significant injuries, but the people that were hiking together as a group were able to get the individual up and to start the process of walking out,” said Obenauer. “It just makes search and rescue efforts that much easier.”
Not all injuries allow people to walk out though. “Head injuries we take very seriously, and oftentimes those end up with a life flight,” Obenauer said.
“If it’s severe enough of an injury that they’re advised to stay put — we’ll get to them one way or another. It just might take a little longer to do that,” Obenauer explained.
If the person who fell is conscious, Obenauer laid out the procedure to follow.
“Ask them all the proper questions,” she said. “Where does it hurt? Can you move? Is anything broken?”
With broken bones, Obenauer says to stay put and wait for help. The first move in all cases should be to call or text 911, even if the injury doesn’t seem all that bad. “We would rather be called out to help and be turned around, than not called and have the outcome be more devastating than it should have been.”