When the Moment Calls: the Importance of First Aid and Being Able to do It
Wherever you are, accidents can easily occur that result in injuries or, worse, death. Being able to provide first aid care means you can save other people’s lives – or, at the very least – keep them alive until proper care is administered by a professional.
If accidents happen in the workplace, you can’t just stand there doing nothing. A simple injury could turn into something much worse if no proper First Aid is administered. With at least a basic knowledge of First Aid and how to use First Aid Kits, you can save lives.
First Aid is care you can offer a person before they receive expert medical help. It’s vital, especially if there are injuries caused by accidents or emergencies that needs immediate and effective response.
List of Common Injuries and Emergencies
The following are a few frequent first aid emergencies that you may encounter in or outside the home, office or outdoors. A brief explanation is provided to further explain how to perform first aid when it’s needed.
Disclaimer: This page provides general information about common emergency condition and first aid procedures only. Each condition may be different from another and may require specific treatment. The content of this page is not designed to be used in the place of expert advice. Always seek professional assistance when administering first aid. This is not a substitute for First Aid training courses accredited by a training provider.
For Managed Training services, visit www.alscotraining.com.au.
Allergic Reaction or Anaphylaxis
An allergic reaction is a serious condition and can be potentially life threatening. The most common allergic reactions occur due to insect bites/stings, medication to which the patient is sensitive, or ingestion of food that contains an allergen.
An amputation is the removal of a limb/body part – be it accidental or otherwise. It can also be the result of a serious animal bite. An amputated finger can result from a variety of incidents – e.g. a kitchen knife, or industrial machinery.
An animal bite is an injury or wound caused by an animal attack. It results in the skin breaking which, in turn, may cause bleeding and a resultant infection.The most common animal bites include those of dogs, cats, snakes or spiders.
Asthma Attacks are respiratory conditions characterized by wheezing or a difficulty to breathe. While some attacks may be triggered by allergic reactions (to dust, strong perfumes, or other scents), asthma attacks can also be triggered by overactivity or stress. Rest may be required – depending on the situation.
Bleeding is said to be the escape of blood usually through a ruptured blood vessel. This commonly happens after injuries like cuts, punctures, scrapes and other emergencies.
This is commonly referred to as “nosebleed” which is typically a form of nasal hemorrhage characterized by bleeding from the nose. It happens when the delicate vessels within the nose breaks, causing blood to leak out of the nasal passage.
Miscarriage – which is also known as pregnancy loss – is the natural death of an embryo or fetus before it is able to survive. Sometimes, it is spontaneous (in the case of an accident), but may be gradual, induced by disease, stress, and various other factors.
This is a type of fracture wherein the bones break or shatter as a result of stress, high impact, or force. Sometimes, a broken bone could also result when the bones are weakened by some form of medical condition like cancer or osteoporosis, therefore causing them to break easily. In many cases, the bone may even protrude from the inside and become dislocated.
Bruises can be accidentally caused by impact that may rupture the sensitive vessels under the skin. The term “black and blue” would best describe a bruise – especially those appearing on areas of the skin as discolorations.
Burns are injuries caused when heat or friction is applied to tissues, causing them to redden, swell or even darken. Chemicals, electricity or radiation can also cause burns, especially if there’s direct contact between these agents and the skin.
Child birth (Emergency Delivery)
Childbirth is the delivery of the new born baby from the mother’s womb. There is usually enough time to get to the hospital to safely deliver the baby. However, in some rare cases, childbirth occurs in unexpected conditions where emergency delivery is required.
Choking is the restriction of air from the environment into the lungs. This is when an individual’s ability to breathe is hindered by some form of blockage to the trachea, say, due to a foreign object. It also occurs when the air passage becomes constricted or swells shut; in some cases caused by allergic reactions.
Cuts, Minor and Major
Cuts are open wounds that can go from bad to worse if untreated. This is usually the effect of injuries caused by sharp, edged objects that penetrate the skin – e.g. knives, broken glass or needles. Minor cuts usually stop bleeding naturally, but deeper or major cuts may need first aid and emergency treatment – particularly if bleeding doesn’t stop.
Diabetes is a metabolically-connected disorder that simply means your insulin is limited, meaning your blood glucose or “blood sugar” is high, causing excessive thirst and urine production. A Diabetes attack can be characterised by sudden cold sweat, lightheadedness and weakness, among others.
Diarrhoea is the condition of having frequent loose or liquid stools that occur at least 3 times each day. It’s also most commonly a loss of bowel control, causing frequent and excessive bowel movements. It is an unpleasant digestive condition that can cause unusual distress and even deadly dehydration – if left untreated. Diarrhoea can also be a symptom of other conditions such as the presence of viral, parasitic or perhaps bacterial entities in the gastrointestinal tract.
Epilepsy is a condition in which people have seizures or epileptic attacks. This occurs when there is an abnormal electric discharge that occurs in the brain that disturbs its normal function. Epileptic attacks are also referred to as epileptic seizures, which are convulsions, involuntary muscle spasms or contractions accompanied by impaired consciousness. These can be violent and uncontrollable at times, and may cause other unwanted injuries if the patient is left unattended.
Exhaustion, Heat and Heat Stroke
Exhaustion is when the body experiences extreme physical or mental fatigue. This could be due to heat, which in most instances is called a heat stroke or heat exhaustion. Often characterized by weakness or tiredness, both may cause an individual to lose control of his or her normal bodily functions leading to unconsciousness.
This is any physical or chemical damage that happens to the eye(s), impairing vision which – in turn – may lead to even further harm (even blindness), unless appropriately treated.
Fainting occurs when there is momentarily an insufficient supply of blood to your brain, causing the person to lose consciousness. It can be caused by other underlying reasons, too. It should be treated as a medical emergency until symptoms are relieved.
Foreign Object in Ear, Eye, or Nose
Foreign bodies are objects that are stuck inside the body by inhaling, swallowing or entering the body through injury or operation. Inhaled or swallowed foreign bodies may cause bowel obstruction or choking that require medical attention.
Fractures and Dislocations
Fractures – usually broken bones – are the result of a major trauma. Dislocation occurs when 2 bones at the joint are out of place. This may also cause injury to the nerves and blood vessels surrounding the bones. These are two of the most common orthopedic injuries where bones – due to some force or impact – break or twist out of place. Although technically differing in definitions, a fracture dislocation can sometimes occur where the bone fracture occurs near a joint, causing it to dislocate completely.
Frostbite is a tissue injury caused by extreme cold, which progresses to gangrene if not treated. Best thought of as the opposite of burns, frostbite is equally alarming, and can happen regardless of whether you’re in a snowy area or not.
Any trauma or damage to the head can be classified as a head injury, and may range from a minor bump through to a more extreme injury that causes damage to the brain and its internal tissues. Head injuries are profoundly dangerous depending on the blow, and can even result in coma or the loss of life.
Heart attack happens when a supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked. A heart attack is described as the death of a part of the heart muscle due to a lack of blood supply. The blockage usually happens long enough for the heart muscle to be damaged. Automated External Defibrillators (AED) units are available for such emergencies.
Hypothermia is the condition where the body experiences an abnormally low internal temperature resulting from prolonged exposure to cold. It generally affects the entire physical system, and in dangerous cases, results in normal bodily functions shutting down.
An overdose is when you take more of a drug than your body can tolerate – whether it’s prescribed or not. It may be done on purpose, in which case it is (attempted) suicide. It can also be unintentional, and this is referred to as accidental overdose.
This is caused when a toxic or harmful substance is ingested into the body. Poison can come from a variety of sources such as chemicals – whether in the form of gas, liquid or solids. Poisonous insects and animals are also sources.
Puncture wounds are generally characterized by hole-like wounds produced by piercing – for example, by a knife or needle.
Resuscitation of Children and Adults
Resuscitation is the act by which one revives a person who has fallen unconscious. CPR is a known form of resuscitation. CPR is the short term for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, which is an emergency procedure performed by an individual to preserve the victim’s brain, breathing and other functions while waiting for medical help. It is often applied after events such as drowning, asphyxiation or when the body is deprived of essential oxygen.
Scrapes or Abrasions
An Abrasion or Scrape occurs if the outer layer of the skin is removed, usually by a rough surface. Mild abrasions do not bleed or scar, but deep abrasions may form scar tissues.
A snakebite is an injury caused by the bite of a snake. Snakebites may result in swelling, redness, severe pain and sometimes poisoning because of the snake’s venom. Maintain the patient’s airway, breathing and circulation – first. Be prepared to give CPR if patient loses consciousness. Follow DRABC.
Spider bite is also called Arachnidism, an injury caused by the bite of a spider. Most spider bites are not serious and cause a minor injury only. However, some bites might be poisonous, or can trigger allergic reaction. Have the patient lie down calmly. Tell them not to move, and try to control their breathing.
A spinal injury is any injury relating to the spinal cord, which causes damage to nerve roots and may result in a loss of bodily function, feeling or mobility. Spinal injuries can be trauma-like, often stopping the normal connection of the nerves to the brain, and can create permanent harm if not properly treated.
Sprains and Strains
Sprains and strains are injuries to the soft tissues or ligaments. These are two common injuries that share the same symptoms, which actually involve different parts of the human body. Sprains affect ligaments or cartilage that connect bones. Sprains occur with stretches or tears, progressing from an acute pain to swelling, instability or even bruising. Strains affect the muscles and tendons primarily, and hurt where your muscles meet bone. A quick pull or twist in the muscles often triggers strains.
Shock – in the medical world – refers to a condition where a lack or complete absence of oxygen and nutrients in the body’s tissues cause cells to fail. This leads to what is known as cellular death, which can quickly progress to organ failure and, eventually, the collapse of the entire body and death. A shock can be induced by many things. Common factors including electrical/physical trauma or chemicals (poison).
Vertigo, not to be mistaken for acrophobia, is a medical condition that leads to disorientation following a sense of spinning, dizziness or faintness. Vertigo occurs when a person feels like they are spinning or moving when they are actually not. This can be caused by diseases, injuries or drugs that impact one’s sense of balance.
“DR.ABC” is your Alphabet of Immediate Action
Standing for Danger, Response, Airway, Breathing and Circulation, this should be your immediate response to any emergencies.
At the first sign of danger, evaluate the situation and make certain of the safety of those around you – particularly casualties. Make certain that you are also safe, because it would be of no good if you, perhaps the only person who knows first aid, became a casualty yourself.
Check the victim’s response. Shake or shout as applicable to check if he/she is okay or still able to react. Be careful – there are some injuries that require the casualty to stay still to avoid further harm. It pays to practice some caution, too.
Clear the victim’s airway. You may turn him or her on one side to do so. Just be wary – especially if you suspect there’s spine injury or profuse bleeding. Avoid further injury wherever possible.
Check for breathing. Open the victim’s mouth, tilt their head back, and extend their jaw. If there’s no breath, proceed to resuscitate. Remember 5:10 – 5 breaths: 10 seconds.
Check if there’s any pulse via the neck or wrist so you know if you need to perform a cardiac massage. Remember 15:10 and 2:5—15 compressions each 10 seconds; then 2 breaths in 5 seconds.
The Final Note
“Never give up” applies — if you know you can still do something then do it. There are many people caught in emergency situations that were able to escape death because a good samaritan persevered while waiting for help. If there’s still a chance for the victim, give them that chance.
“Call a professional” — persevere, yes, but keep in mind that there are some things that you simply can’t do without a medical professional. Now, if you’ve already given all you can, and were able to give the casualty a fighting chance through first aid, let the medical professionals do the rest.
For a safer workplace, partner with Alsco and take advantage of our fully managed, cost-effective First Aid Kit rental services. Call 1300 077 391 for a quote today. Ask about our obligation-free First Aid audit and get OH&S compliant.
Photo Courtesy: Rama