Learning how to perform first aid for everyday emergencies can make the difference between life and death,YOU ARE enjoying the winter sunshine outdoors on a lazy Sunday afternoon with your kids. Suddenly, your son trips and falls down on his face. His nose starts bleeding and his right hand is twisted, perhaps broken.
All you know is that he’s in extreme pain and you have no idea how to help him in the immediate moment, before you can get him to a medical facility. Well, you are not alone. Most of us are faced with variations of this situation in our daily lives and are totally ill-equipped to handle them.
Whether it’s a broken bone in a road accident or a seizure attack at home, panic seems to be the only reaction we can muster. But this is clearly not enough. Here we guide you on how to deal with some common emergencies.
Extreme pain- No movement or extreme pain with movement. Deformity or swelling - BONES can get fractured in various incidents, from road accidents to falls. A weak skeletal structure makes children and the elderly more prone to them. Anyone who has a fall, or injury and experiences pain in the bone needs to be examined to ascertain whether this is a sprain or a fracture.
Bleeding in the injured area should be treated first, by cleaning the area carefully with an antiseptic and applying a sterile dressing. Do not bandage the injury site tightly. You can also use a cold pack on the fractured area- ice should be wrapped in a clean piece of cloth before application to prevent frostbite.
“Immobilise the fractured limb using a homemade splint for leg or sling for the arm,” says Dr Prateek Gupta, consultant sport medicine, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. For a leg injury, use two splintsone on the inner leg from the foot to the inner thigh, and the other, on the outside. Keep the leg above heart level to keep swelling to a minimum.
Keep the injured area clean and covered. If there is a hand fracture, move the hand gently to a 90- degree angle and keep it close to the chest. It should be immobilised in this position. If somebody has got a back injury, it’s important that you help him lie down on a hard surface like a wooden plank or a stretcher.
“Don’t try to turn the person by lifting from the shoulders because there can be fracture in the spine. If it’s essential to move, lift him from the neck and hips together. Movement of limbs may also be painful so try to restrict that as much as possible,” says Dr Gupta.
Restoring breath, CARDIO pulmonary resuscitation or CPR is an emergency procedure to save a person whose heart has stopped or he is not breathing due to a heart attack, electrocution or neardrowning. It can help maintain circulation and breathing until help arrives.
Kneel next to the person and check his carotid artery pulse which is in the neck. If there is no pulse, place the heel of your hand over the center of the person's chest. Place your other hand on top of the first hand and push straight down on the chest.
Give the compressions in a smooth, rhythmic manner. Don't rock back and forth and don't pause between compressions. After 30 such compressions give two artificial breaths by putting your mouth on his mouth. Repeat this sequence five times.
Check for breathing and pulse again. If they are still absent, repeat the process. Stop and check for heartbeat every five minutes hereafter. Do not begin the chest compressions if heartbeat has stopped until the airway is cleared. Do not give chest compressions if there is a heartbeat. Doing so may cause the heart to stop beating.
Watery discharge from eye:
Watery discharge from eye, swelling, bleeding - THE eyes are the most delicate part of your body and any injury to them may result in permanent damage and blindness. However, different kinds of treatment are recommended for varied conditions. If you have suffered a blow to the eye, place a cold compress over it but don’t apply pressure to the eyeball. If there is continuous pain, reduced vision, blood or discolouration in the eye, you may have internal eye damage and must see an ophthalmologist. Don’t rub your eyes to remove debris. Instead, flush them with water. “Artificial tears can also be helpful.
However, if something is stuck in the eye which has also cut or punctured the eye, do not wash it and also don’t attempt to remove the object as it can cause more damage. Maintain stability without causing pressure to the eyeball and seek medical assistance as soon as possible,” says Dr Umesh Bareja, senior consultant, ophthalmologist, Sitaram Bhartia Research Institute. For chemical burns, flush the eye with water for a minimum of 15 minutes. If the chemical is caustic, continue flushing the eye en route to the doctor.
Seizure attack - WITNESSING someone having a seizure is a scary experience: One moment a person is normal and the next, he is making violent movements with his hands and feet and has foam coming out of his mouth. He may even end up unconscious. If you are around someone going through this, simply let it run its course, since a seizure can’t be stopped. Seizures are usually not life threatening, though an elderly person does run the risk of extra strain being placed on his heart.
You need to call the ambulance if the seizure persists for more than five minutes, or if the victim is pregnant or diabetic. In some people a second seizure may begin before he regains consciousness, which is also an emergency situation. Do not shake or hold the person who is having the seizure. Also avoid putting anything (including medicine) in the mouth. People do not swallow their tongues during seizures and giving medicine may cause choking.
Turn the person on his left side to ease breathing as the tongue can fall back into the throat obstructing the airways. This would also help if the person is vomiting as the vomit will be expelled from the mouth and not inhaled into the windpipe and lungs. When the person regains consciousness, he may be dazed or tired but if the person feels confused for more than an hour after a seizure, call for medical help.
“A seizure attack accompanied by fever, headache or weakness by signify brain infection, stroke or brain tumour,” says Dr Praveen Gupta, consultant neurologist, Artemis Health Institute.
Signs of shock:
Signs of shock - Burns at the point of contact, commonly the hands, legs, head. Also look for spinal or bone injuries. ELECTROCUTION is another emergency situation which is risky for the person trying to help too. However, a bit of caution can see you through. A victim of suspected electrocution is an electrical conductor until he is free of contact with the current. If the current cannot be turned off and a live wire is touching the victim, dry your hands completely and insulate them with dry gloves or a cloth.
Stand on a dry, non-conductive surface, such as a stack of newspapers, a board, or pile of clothes. Depending upon the situation, you can either push the victim away from the wire or push the wire from the victim. Move the person or the wire using a wooden pole or board. Check whether the victim is breathing or has a heartbeat.
If not, cardio pulmonary resuscitation is essential. “The victim may take time to revive because recovery from electric shock can be slow. When breathing is restored, treat the victim for shock by elevating the feet and covering with a blanket. If the person has fallen from a height or is a victim of high-tension contact or lightening strike, check for other injuries on the body,” says Dr Vishal Sehgal, head of emergency medicines services, Artemis Health Institute. If the victim was struck by lightening, the rescuer does not need to worry about sustaining a shock since the current has passed through the body and disappeared.