You’re Sick or Hurt in Black Rock City. What are Your Options?

The first thing you should do is determine whether you can treat yourself using a personal or camp first aid kit. We’ve got a list of essential items here.

Pro tip: One of the top complaints is playa foot. This is your skin’s response to the alkali conditions, and it’s not fun. A soak in a 4:1 water-to-vinegar mix for 20 minutes each day will help this.

If your illness or injury is more severe than you can manage yourself, ask your campmates for assistance. Alternately, get yourself to one of our medical stations at the 3 & C and 9 & C plazas, our satellite stations at the 4:30 & H and 7:30 & H plazas, and another out near the Temple. Look for the large red crosses. The main Emergency Services Department (ESD) station and the Rampart Urgent Care Clinic are co-located at the 5:15 and Esplanade site. 

Any Ranger (look for the khaki shirts) or ESD (look for the yellow shirts) staff, or really anyone you see with a radio can help you in finding the right care. Remember that all care (medical and otherwise) at BRC is non-judgmental — we are not the morality patrol.

If on-site medical providers feel you have a medical emergency that requires a higher level of care, you may need to visit a hospital in Reno. This may require transport by an ambulance, plane, or helicopter. You’ll want to have your ID, insurance card, cell phone, Burning Man ticket, and wallet when you go. You’ll be asked to sign a Release of Information form, which gives us permission to tell your friends and family where you went. You’ll need to arrange for a friend to pick you up after your hospital visit; there are no shuttles back to the playa.

If you need medical help while driving to or from the playa, the nearest clinic from the East is Pershing General Hospital in Lovelock. Westbound, there are several hospitals in Reno.

Pro tip: Bring an adequate supply of your medications (even the ones you rarely use when at home), plus a little extra in case your departure is delayed. The closest pharmacies are in Fernley or Reno. Keep all medications in their original prescription containers in order to avoid BLM citations. Don’t come to Burning Man if you’ve just had major surgery and make sure your shots — particularly tetanus — are up to date!

H.A.L.T. — The warning signs of buzzkill

H.A.L.T. stands for Hungry. Angry. Lonely. Tired. If not recognized and dealt with, you risk making yourself and those around you miserable. H.A.L.T. is an invitation to check yourself before you wreck yourself. Watch this video for more info.

Did You Know it Costs $50,000 or More if You Get Transported Off Playa via MedEvac?!?

The most expensive ride on the playa is the one you never want to take: an emergency medical transport to one of the Reno hospitals. Even if you have insurance, it still might leave you with a bill for several thousand dollars, since most insurance doesn’t cover 100% of medical costs. Of course it is considerably worse if you have no insurance.

Every year we hear a story or two of a Burner who gets airlifted off playa only to practically need to be resuscitated again when they receive their bill months later. Given that only an unlucky few get airlifted each year, chances are good you’ll never need it, but if you have a complicated pre-existing condition or you are a good little scout and believe in preparedness, it’s worth considering a $50 membership from CrowdRX. Membership application information is here.

Get Showered with… WHAT?!? Ewwww, gross.

Sharing a shower with someone you love is awesome, but doing it behind one of our road watering trucks is the opposite of awesome because the non-potable water they use might contain icky things that can make you sick.

While we’re on the subject of community bathing, it’s cool to set up a shower for your camp (so long as you have a system for containing / evaporating the water), but public showers, pools and slip ’n slides are prohibited since there’s no legal way to make them safe. Stick to the solar showers.

Your Mom was Right — Wash Your Hands!

The Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health strongly recommends each camp have hand washing stations set up for regular hand-washing use. Remember, “Handwashing is like a ‘do-it-yourself’ vaccine,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Carrying (and using) hand sanitizer is a good start, but there’s no substitute for washing with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds as the most effective way to reduce norovirus contamination on the hands.