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All about health and medicine at Midburn (or: How to enjoy Midburn and return home safely)

Updated: Oct 5, 2022

We all want to have fun at Midburn and also return home safe and sound to tell all about it. The following are important things to know on a medical level for the event, starting from how to take care of yourself properly - all the way to what help is out there in case you need it [hamsa hamsa].

We call it - Radical Prevention.

Radical Prevention - the sister of Radical Self-Reliance

First and foremost, the responsibility for health and safety is on each and every one of us Burners. From past experience, 80% of the cases that needed assistance at the clinic could have been prevented by following some fairly simple rules:

1. Bring a basic first aid kit from home.

Did we already mention radical self-reliance? It is your responsibility to yourselves and your loved one to bring the basic necessities of a first aid kit: band-aids, dressings, syrups for kids, thermometer, tweezers, pain and fever-reducing medicine, sunscreen, contraceptives and any other medical equipment you may need.

2. If you need any regular medications, You must bring them.

The only medications on playa are limited and for medical emergencies only. Do you have regular medicine that you take? You must bring enough for the entire event and also a means to keep that medicine cold if needed. It’s important to note that *there’s no refrigerator for medications in the clinic.

3. Water, Water and more Water.

Losing out on part of the magic because of dehydration is a shame, and unfortunately it happens a lot in our city. In the desert, unusually what we think is enough actually isn't. Even in October conditions, we’re talking about 3-4 liters (1-1.5 gallons) per adult per day. How do we know if we drank enough? Like this: ask yourselves and others “when was the last time I went to the bathroom?” If it’s been more than two to three hours since you last urinated, you’re in danger of becoming dehydrated. And if on top of it you drank some alcohol - you’re in double danger.

4. Make up for lost body salts.

From experience - it really helps to drink electrolyte (isotonic) drinks in order to restore salts in the body that are lost during the stay on playa. It’s possible to buy prepared powders, there are plenty of home-made recipes on the web, and there’s also an excellent natural one - coconut water. Recommended in every bag and in every camp!

5. Take care of your body.

Make sure to wear a hat, use sunglasses and sunscreen in the scorching sun. Be careful of fire. The playa is full of obstacles, re-bar, holes and there can be poisonous insects such as centipedes and scorpions. Always wear closed toed shoes, watch out when moving rocks in the desert and use work gloves if you are doing build work. This is the place to remind you that if you see re-bar sticking out of the ground or other MOOP that can endanger others, each and every one of us must act immediately to take care of the danger. Did we mention communal effort?

6. Avoid dust damage.

Unfortunately the dust in our present Midburn playa location is agricultural land, with a chemical composition that irritates the lungs after prolonged exposure. It is recommended to use a bandana or a dust mask (Buff) and also make an effort to walk with closed-toe shoes.

7. Stay clean and hygienic.

The conditions of the warm desert are a wonderful place for infections to develop. Make sure to wash your hand when working with food and after going to the bathroom. Pay attention to food that has been out for too long in the sun and may have gone bad, and don’t drink water that you don’t know it’s source. It’s important to clean and cover skin cuts so they won’t become infected.

8. Know your boundaries.

Midburn is an intense event for both body and soul. Make sure to rest, drink, eat and listen to your body. It’s much wiser than any doctor, nurse or paramedic.

9. In case you are hurt.

First of all, keep calm, you’re never alone! If you can, it’s always preferable to arrive to the Midburn Clinic (8 & Gibraltar) and receive care there rather than out on the playa. In the unfortunate case that there’s an emergency situation that requires immediate evacuation or medical care in the field it’s possible to reach the Medburn Clinic by speaking with central communication (“The hive”) or with Rangers, who are always out around the playa with walkie talkies.

All about medical services in the city

The Medical Emergency Services at Midburn (MEDBURN) operate a desert emergency room which is open and operational 24/7. It’s goal is to provide medical services to the temporary city from its build until teardown. Medical services are provided in the MEDBURN tent (8 & G) and consist of two branches:

1. Emergency Prevention Team:

Based on official regulatory requirements, there are both ambulances and paramedics on call in the city for the purpose of providing care and immediate evacuation in the case of a life-threatening medical emergency.

2. Medical Volunteer Clinic:

Above and beyond the regulatory requirement, and as a gift and service to our city, the volunteer-run clinic includes Burners from a wide range of medical roles and alternative medicine roles. Their goal is simple: Get you to return to celebrating. These volunteers will be in our medical tent around the clock and are ready to respond to most of the medical issues that are likely to arise at the event, from orthopedic issues and dehydration to pediatric issues. Many resources were invested into this clinic, including an air conditioned tent and a wide array of medical equipment. It’s important to note that it is NOT an official emergency room - but rather a volunteer clinic based on dedicated medical professionals that are all Burners with goodwill. If any issue arises it’s possible to go the medical clinic, but of course, it is also your full right to be evacuated outside of the event to get official medical care.

Wishing us all a safe and wonderful event!

With love,

The MEDBURN medical team


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