STEP 4 FIRST AID
In an emergency, you must be prepared to treat more serious injuries than a mere cut. Band-aids are simply not up to the task. You will need more serious medical supplies and some basic knowledge of first aid. What is first aid? In an emergency, two goals should be pursued: • •
Preserve life. This is the overriding aim of all medical care, including first aid. Prevent further harm. This covers both external factors, such as moving a patient away from a cause of harm, and applying first aid techniques to prevent worsening of the condition.
THINK ABC Airway, Breathing and Circulation The essential steps in treating someone who is injured. AIRWAY In the unconscious patient, the priority is airway management to maintain the body's oxygen supply. Common problems include blockage of the pharynx by the tongue, a foreign body, or vomit. At a basic level, opening of the airway is achieved through manual
movement of the head, with the most widely taught and used being the "head tilt — chin lift". BREATHING After the airway is opened the next area to assess is the patient's breathing, primarily to find if the patient is making normal respiratory efforts. Normal breathing rates are between 12 and 30 breaths per minute, and if a patient is breathing below the minimum rate, CPR should be considered. If someone has stopped breathing, you need to have a CPR shield or mask. These can be purchased in most drug stores or where medical supplies are sold. Remember CPR training is one of the most important investments you can make in your family's safety. CPR is not, however, something you can put in a kit. Get training through the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross. CIRCULATION Once oxygen can be delivered to the lungs by a clear airway and efficient breathing, there needs to be circulation to deliver it to the rest of the body.
Assessing circulation is difficult for non professional caregivers -- but here are some things to consider. •
Secondary signs of circulatory failure includes frothing from the mouth (indicative of congestive heart failure).
Observation of color and temperature of hands and OTHER EMERGENCY fingers. Cold, blue, pink or TREATMENTS pale extremities Stop Bleeding can be Regardless indicative of how severe, all poor bleeding can circulation be controlled. If Capillary left refill testing uncontrolled, involves bleeding may applying lead to shock pressure to or even death. an area of skin to The first step in force blood controlling a Gauze is good! from the bleeding wound area, and counting the is to plug the hole. Blood time until return of blood. needs to clot in order to start the This can be performed healing process and stop the peripherally, usually on a bleeding. Just like ice won't form on fingernail bed, or centrally, the rapids of a river, blood will not usually on the sternum or coagulate when it's flowing. forehead Pulse checks, both centrally and peripherally, assessing • The best way to stop it is to rate (normally 60-80 beats per put pressure directly on the minute in a resting adult), wound. regularity, strength, and • If you have some type of equality between different gauze, use it. pulses • Gauze pads hold the blood on Blood pressure measurements the wound and help the can be taken to assess for components of the blood to signs of shock
stick together, promoting clotting. If you don't have gauze, terrycloth towels work almost as well.
Never take off the gauze. Peeling blood soaked gauze off a wound removes vital clotting agents and encourages bleeding to resume.
sweep the vomit from his or her mouth with your fingers.
The Bottom Line: The bottom line is to have plenty of gauze and learn basic first aid skills.
Treating for Shock. Shock is essentially a decrease in blood flow to the brain and other important organs. Untreated, shock from bleeding will almost always cause death. •
If you do not suspect a neck injury, lay the victim on his or her back (supine) and elevate the legs. (If you suspect a neck injury, do not move the victim. Car and other vehicle accidents often lead to neck injuries. Neck injuries are also common in falls, especially falls from a height taller than the victim.) Keep the victim warm. Continue to check on the victim. If the victim stops breathing, begin rescue breathing. If the victim vomits, roll the victim to one side and