Seniors Hiking In The Woods

CEP header


Volume 27 Number 5

By Paul MacMillan, AEMT

More and more seniors are hiking in the woods, which is simply a “walk in the woods.” You will find seniors walking along rugged trails, along riverbanks, through meadows, or on boardwalks over wetlands. You can find seniors recreating almost anywhere in the wilderness.

To look at the prevention side of things as a senior that plays out in the woods, there are a few things you should do before you go for your hike. I would like to review some of these simple steps to keep you safe and make your hike enjoyable.

If you are on medications, make sure you pack any medications that are needed for that day’ activity and extra medication in case something delays you from returning home at the appointed time. If you have special conditions that a first responder may need to know in order to provide you with the best possible care, wear a medical bracelet, necklace, or carry this vital information in your wallet. Program emergency contact information into your cell phone. Many first responders will check cell phones for the notation “ICE” (In Case of Emergency). Leave your family or friends an itinerary of when and where you are hiking, and when you plan to return.

When you head out, wear comfortable and appropriate footwear for your hike. Senior’s hiking shoes should have excellent ankle support, be lightweight, and, if possible, have non-skid soles. Have a well-supplied backpack to meet the needs of your hike. Make sure you pack it with the essentials: water, light snacks, a map and compass, a signaling device (whistle, or mirror), light source (headlamp, or flashlight), matches, cell phone, rain gear, extra pair of socks, a SOLO WFA map, and of course, your medications. If you have balance, knee, or back problems, I also recommended that you use a walking stick or trekking poles.

Read more


November/December 2011  ISSN-1059-6518  Volume 24 Number 6

Vaccines and Our Immune System

 By Frank Hubbell, DO


What is the Immune System?


A better way to ask this simple question is, “what protects us against infectious disease”? Simply answered, it is our immune system. The whole purpose of the immune system is to recognize self from non-self. Any type of cell or protein that does not belong in us will be found, recognized, and destroyed by our immune system.


This defense system, against invading pathogens, is a multilayered system. The first layer of defense is the physical barrier, our skin. The second layer is the innate immune system, which is an immediate reaction to a threat, but very non-specific. The final layer of defense is the adaptive or acquired immune system. Although this system is slower to respond, it is very specific, and it produces an immune memory. It is this system, adaptive immunity, that our bodies take advantage of to create immunity against various diseases by using vaccines.

Read more

The Risks of International Travel

Statistically speaking, the most common cause of death for the international traveler while abroad is motor vehicle accidents, and second, is death from a pre-existing condition, such as heart disease, diabetes, or cancer. However, there are a number of other medical issues that can disrupt or ultimately ruin an international trip. With regard to the two top problems: drive carefully and defensively. If you are not comfortable behind the wheel, take other methods of transport or hire a driver. While these measures cannot insure accident avoidance, they can minimize the risk. Before traveling to a region where medical care may be difficult to obtain, have a thorough physical and make sure you are carrying a sufficient amount of any medications that you may be taking. Also remember that some conditions may not be detectable before you leave, so having good international insurance that will provide for treatment at the closest major medical facility and evacuation back to your home country is a wise decision.

September/October 2011 ISSN 1059-6518

Read more


May/June 2011  ISSN-1059-6518  Volume 24 Number 3

By Frank Hubbell, DO

Wounds and the Risk of Tetanus

Clostridium tetani and Tetanospasmin

 It seems like everyone who goes to the doctor with a wound or animal bite is asked when their last tetanus shot was. The question is why? What is so special about tetanus? What is it, and why do we care?

Tetanus, also knows as lockjaw, is a potentially fatal illness that occurs with wound infections. Tetanus is a neurologic disorder caused by the bacterial Clostridium tetani.

Clostridium tetani is an anaerobic bacterium that has the ability to form spores when in a hostile environment. When the bacterium is in a favorable environment to survive, thrive, and multiply, it exists as a single-celled bacterium that feeds, multiplies, and excretes. When the bacterium finds itself in a hostile environment, it changes into a spore with a hard outer, protective shell. As a spore it can survive the hostile environment for up to 40 years, just waiting for the opportunity to move into a more favorable milieu.

Read more