Murray – Know the ABC of emergency first aid
February 21, 2010
If you see someone in need of first aid, the first thing you should do is send a bystander to call 911. The caller should explain where they are. Look for landmarks, stores or restaurants and give your location from there. Get a country road number or a nearby house address so EMS can get there quickly. Next, give your phone number in case you get disconnected. Then, give as much information as to what happened as possible.
“It can be a stressful situation for a person to see something requiring their assistance, and they might not remember the CPR class they had years ago,” said Jason Kotas, EMS Captain. He points out the protocol for CPR: Airway, Breathing, and Circulation.
AIRWAY: Is there something lodged? Was the victim eating something or could they be having an allergic reaction to something? Check the airway. If they are talking there is a good airway. If a small child is crying, then it’s a positive sign that their airway is open.
When someone is choking on food or a foreign object, guidelines now recommend “five and five”: five back blows delivered between the shoulder blades with the heel of the hand followed by five abdominal thrusts (Heimlich maneuver). Alternate between the two until the object is dislodged. For toddlers apply the abdominal thrusts only if they are not making any noise.
BREATHING: Are they breathing? Listen. Do you hear wheezing or noises? If there is wheezing their might be something lodged in their airway. Look at their chest. Is it rising and falling?
CIRCULATION: Check for a pulse on wrist or neck-using your first two fingers because the thumb has a pulse. If you checked for a pulse, and one isn’t there and chest isn’t moving start CPR.
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Instructions for controlling bleeding now recommend applying direct pressure firmly over the bleeding area until bleeding stops or emergency personnel arrive. Previous instructions included a combination of direct pressure plus elevation and use of pressure points. “An often-made mistake is people don’t put enough pressure,” says Kotas. “Push down with quite a bit of force to help the cut or laceration start clotting up. Base your pressure on the size of the person.”
Accident victims are often in shock – not an emotional reaction but a medical condition in which the circulatory system shuts down, slowing blood flow to the upper body. The person in shock is likely to be cold and shivering with labored breathing and a rapid heart rate. He or she may also be disoriented, panicky and aggressive. Treatment involves calming the person and seeing that he is kept warm and in a prone position with legs elevated. Kotas recommends that you continue talking to them, be calming, and tell them help is on the way. Also, put a blanket or a coat on top of them.
Concussions are common in youth sports; they usually involve a blow to the head, but there need not be loss of consciousness. The most common symptoms are confusion, loss of memory of the impact that caused the concussion, headache, ringing in the ears, dizziness, nausea/vomiting, slurred speech and fatigue. Some symptoms may not appear until hours or days later.
Notice if they’ve lost consciousness. Are they alert and aware to what is going on? Ask them their name and ask if they know where they are. Are they repeatedly asking the same questions? This might be indicative of some sort of head or brain trauma. If a general bystander thinks the person has a concussion, make sure they are held still and keep them from moving around.
There are some things you should be careful NOT to do in a first aid situation:
• Don’t rush to move a person until you know for sure that there is no risk of a neck or spinal cord injury. The exception, of course, is removing a person from immediate danger, such as drowning or burning.
• Don’t remove a knife or any other deeply embedded object.
• Don’t touch a person who is still in contact with live electrical current; you could become the second victim. See that the appliance is unplugged or that power is shut off at the source. If that is impossible, a broom handle, stick or anything that does not conduct electricity might be used to separate the person from the current
Broken bones, heat exhaustion, snake bites, fainting, seizures, low blood sugar, heart attacks, stroke-these are just a few of the occasions requiring urgent medical attention. Assess the situation calmly, call 911 and offer whatever assistance or comfort you can while medical help is on its way.
“Don’t underestimate the impact you can have on helping people,” said Kotas. “What you do to help in the first few minutes can make a big impact on the outcome of the patient.”