What to Do After an Accident

If someone is injured in an incident, first check that you and the casualty are not in any danger. If you are, make the situation safe. When it’s safe to do so, assess the casualty and call for an ambulance (if necessary). You can then carry out basic first aid.

Assessing a casualty

The priorities when dealing with a casualty can be remembered as ABC:

  • Airway
  • Breathing
  • Circulation

Airway

If the casualty appears unresponsive, ask them loudly if they are OK and if they can open their eyes. If they respond, you can leave the casualty in the position they are in until help arrives. While you wait, keep checking their breathing, pulse and level of response:

  • Are they alert?
  • Do they respond to your voice?
  • Do they respond to pain?
  • Is there no response to any stimulus (they’re unconscious)?

If there is no response, leave the casualty in the position they are in and open their airway. If this is not possible in the position they are in, gently lay them on their back and open the airway.

You open the airway by placing one hand on the casualty’s forehead and gently tilting the head back, then lifting the tip of the chin using two fingers. This is to move the tongue away from the back of the mouth. Do not push on the floor of the mouth as this will cause the tongue to obstruct the airway.

If you think they may have a spinal injury, place your hands on either side of their face and use your fingertips to gently lift the angle of the jaw to open the airway. Take care not to move the casualty’s neck. This is known as the jaw thrust technique.

Breathing

To check if a person is still breathing:

  • Look to see if their chest is rising and falling.
  • Listen over their mouth and nose for breathing.
  • Feel their breath against your cheek for 10 seconds.

If they are breathing, place them in the recovery position so the airway remains clear of obstructions.

If the casualty is not breathing, call for an ambulance, then begin CPR.

Circulation

If the heart stops beating, you can help maintain their circulation by performing chest compressions. This is cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) when combined with rescue breaths.

 

If you are not trained or feel unable to give rescue breaths, you can perform compression-only CPR.

Agonal breathing is common in the first few minutes after a sudden cardiac arrest (when the heart stops beating). Agonal breathing is sudden, irregular gasps of breath. This should not be mistaken for normal breathing and CPR should be given straight away.

 

Unconsciousness

Unconsciousness is when a person suddenly becomes unable to respond to stimuli and appears to be asleep. A person may be unconscious for a few seconds (fainting) or for longer periods of time.

People who become unconscious don’t respond to loud sounds or shaking. They may even stop breathing or their pulse may become faint. This calls for immediate emergency attention. The sooner the person receives emergency first aid, the better their outlook will be.

What Causes Unconsciousness?

Unconsciousness can be brought on by a major illness or injury, or complications from drug use or alcohol abuse.

Common causes of unconsciousness include:

  • a car accident
  • severe blood loss
  • a blow to the chest or head
  • a drug overdose
  • alcohol poisoning

A person may become temporarily unconscious (faint) when sudden changes occur within the body. Common causes of temporary unconsciousness include:

  • low blood sugar
  • low blood pressure
  • syncope (loss of consciousness due to lack of blood flow to the brain)
  • dehydration
  • problems with the heart’s rhythm
  • neurologic syncope (loss of consciousness caused by a seizure, stroke, or transient ischemic attack)
  • straining
  • hyperventilating

Signs that a Person May Become Unconscious

Symptoms that may indicate that unconsciousness is about to occur include:

  • sudden inability to respond
  • slurred speech
  • a rapid heartbeat
  • confusion
  • dizziness or lightheadedness

Administering First Aid

If you see a person who has become unconscious, take these steps:

  • Check whether the person is breathing. If they are not breathing, call an ambulance immediately. If they are breathing, position the person on their back.
  • Raise the person’s legs at least 12 inches above the ground.
  • Loosen any restrictive clothing or belts. If the person doesn’t regain consciousness within one minute, call ambulance.
  • Check the person’s airway to make sure there’s no obstruction.
  • Check again to see if the person is breathing, coughing, or moving. These are signs of positive circulation. If these signs are absent, perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until emergency personnel arrive.

CPR Instructions

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a way to treat someone when they stop breathing or their heart stops beating.

  • Lay the person on their back on a firm surface.
  • Kneel next to the person’s neck and shoulders.
  • Place the heel of your hand over the center of the person’s chest. Put your other hand directly over the first one and interlace your fingers. Make sure that your elbows are straight and move your shoulders up above your hands.
  • Using your upper body weight, push straight down on the person’s chest at least 1.5 inches for children, or 2 inches for adults. Then release the pressure. Repeat this procedure again up to 100 times per minute. These are called chest compressions.

To minimize potential injuries, only those trained in CPR should perform rescue breathing. If you haven’t been trained, perform chest compressions until medical help arrives.

If you are trained in CPR, tilt the person’s head back and lift the chin to open up the airway.

  • Pinch the person’s nose closed and cover their mouth with yours, creating an airtight seal.
  • Give two one-second breaths and watch for the person’s chest to rise.
  • Continue alternating between compressions and breaths — 30 compressions and two breaths — until help arrives or there are signs of mov

How Is Unconsciousness Treated?

If unconsciousness is due to low blood pressure, a doctor will administer medication by injection to increase blood pressure. If low blood sugar level is the cause, they may need something sweet to eat or a glucose injection.

Medical staff should treat any injuries that caused the person to become unconscious.

Complications of Unconsciousness

Potential complications of being unconscious for a long period of time include:

  • coma
  • brain damage

Travel First Aid

Travel First Aid Kit

Just as you prepare first aid kits for your home and car, you should also create one for travel.

Your travel kit can be customized for every trip. You will want to bring basic supplies found in your standard home emergency kit, but you should also include other items. Consider the following:

How many people are going on the trip? You need to bring enough supplies for the number of people traveling with you.

How long will you be gone?  Prescription and over-the-counter medications should be adequate to last for the duration of the trip, plus a few days extra in case of travel delays.

Where are you going?  For instance, on a wilderness trip, you’ll need special gear, including a compass, a water-filtering bottle or water purification tablets, and a whistle.

An over-the-counter antihistamine should be included in case of allergic reactions. And a first aid instruction manual, preferably for wilderness travel, is desirable as you may be far from immediate medical help.

What will you be doing?  If you plan to hike, for example, you’ll want to include moleskin to protect your heels from blisters. If you’re boating, motion sickness medication is a must.

Insect repellant, sunscreen, calamine lotion, and aloe or another burn gel are essential for almost all outdoor adventures.

 

Snake Bites

What Are Snake Bites?

A bite from a venomous snake can be deadly, and should always be treated as a medical emergency. Even a bite from a harmless snake can be serious, leading to an allergic reaction or an infection. Venomous snake bites can produce an array of symptoms, including localized pain and swelling, convulsions, and nausea—even paralysis.

There are first aid steps you can take after a snake bite occurs, such as cleaning the wound, remaining calm, and immobilizing the affected area. However, it is essential to get the bite victim to a medical facility immediately for emergency treatment. If treated in time, the outlook for recovery is good.

To identify a snake bite, consider the following general symptoms:

  • two puncture wounds
  • swelling and redness around the wounds
  • pain at the bite site
  • difficulty breathing
  • vomiting and nausea
  • blurred vision
  • sweating and salivating
  • numbness in the face and limbs

First Aid for Snake Bites

It is essential to get a victim of a snake bite to a medical facility for emergency treatment as quickly as possible. However, there are some tips that you should also keep in mind:

  • Call ambulance immediately.
  • Keep the victim calm and still. Movement can cause the venom to move more quickly through the body. Consider making a splint to restrict the movement of the affected area.
  • Remove constricting clothing or jewelry. The area of the bite will likely swell, so it is important to remove these items quickly.
  • Carry or transport the victim by vehicle. This person should not be allowed to walk.
  • If the snake is dead, take it with you for identification. Do not waste time hunting it down, though.

There are also several outdated first aid techniques that are now believed to be unhelpful or even harmful. Do not do any of the following:

  • Do not use a tourniquet.
  • Do not cut into the snake bite.
  • Do not use a cold compress on the bite.
  • Do not give the victim any medications unless directed by a doctor.
  • Do not raise the area of the bite above the victim’s heart.
  • Do not attempt to suck the venom out by mouth
  • Do not use a pump suction device. While these devices were formerly recommended for pumping out snake venom, it is now believed that they are more likely to do harm than good.

Treatment for Snake Bites

The most important thing to do for a snake bite victim is to get him or her emergency medical help as soon as possible. A doctor will evaluate the victim to decide on a specific course of treatment. In some cases, a bite from a venomous snake is not life-threatening. The severity depends on the location of the bite and the age and health of the victim. If the bite is not serious, the doctor may simply clean the wound and give the victim a tetanus vaccine.

If the situation is life threatening, the doctor may administer an antivenom. This is a substance that is created with snake venom to counter the snake bite symptoms. It is injected into the victim intravenously. The sooner the antivenom is used, the more effective it will be.

Prevention of Snake Bites

Snake bites can be prevented in many cases. Refrain from approaching or handling snakes in the wild. Avoid areas of tall grass and piled leaves, as well as rock and woodpiles. These are typical places in which snakes like to hide.

When working outside where snakes may be present, wear tall boots, long pants, and leather gloves. Avoid working outside during the night and in warmer weather, which is when snakes are most active.

 

Shock

  1. Lay the Person Down, if Possible

  • Elevate the person’s feet about 12 inches unless head, neck, or back is injured or you suspect broken hip or leg bones.
  • Do not raise the person’s head.
  • Turn the person on side if he or she is vomiting or bleeding from the mouth.
  1. Begin CPR, if Necessary

If the person is not breathing or breathing seems dangerously weak:

  • For a child, start CPR for children.
  • For an adult, start adult CPR.
  • Check breathing every 5 minutes until help arrives.
  1. Treat Obvious Injuries

  2. Keep Person Warm and Comfortable

  • Loosen restrictive clothing.
  • Cover with coat or blanket.
  • Keep the person still. Do not move the person unless there is danger.
  • Reassure the person.
  • Do not give anything to eat or drink.
  1. Follow Up

  • At the hospital, the person will be given oxygen and intravenous liquids.
  • Other treatment will depend on the cause of shock.