Do not underestimate the importance of learning first aid skills. In case of an emergency, the only way you or the victim can survive is if you know how to apply basic first aid skills.
Ask yourself. If you were stabbed and left bleeding, would you know what to do? Do you think you’ll survive if you were hiking up a mountain trail, slipped, and broke an ankle? What if a gas tank exploded nearby and you suffered from burns, would you know how to treat them so they won’t get worse?
Below are a few emergency scenarios in which the proper first aid skills would spell the difference between living and ending up six feet under. Pay attention.
Stop the Bleeding
In many medical emergencies, the victim or patient does not make it because of blood loss. Learning how to stop heavy bleeding is therefore one of the most important first aid skills you should know.
Stab and Gunshot Wounds
The first thing you should do is locate the wound or wounds. In the case of gunshots and sword stabbing, the wound could be through and through. That means there’s an entry and exit wound.
Next, check for arterial bleeding. If the wound is pulsating and the blood is bright red, chances are high that an artery is damaged. This puts things to a whole new level as the victim will lose more blood and possibly succumb in just a few minutes.
Grab the cleanest pieces of cloth you can find, such as your shirt, and place it directly on the wound or wounds. Apply as much pressure as you can to stop the bleeding.
(Related: What Would I Do To Survive Gunshot Wounds)
If the wound is bleeding profusely, the cloth will likely be soaked in blood in seconds. Don’t remove it. Just apply another layer of cloth and continue applying pressure.
If the wound is located on the extremities, raise the limb so it’s higher than the heart. This will slow down the bleeding.
All these should be done as fast as possible. This is one situation where every second counts. Don’t forget to call for help. Have someone call 911 or if there’s no one else around, try making the call while you’re applying pressure to the wound.
From something so horrific, let’s turn the notch down a little and discuss the correct first aid skills needed to treat a nosebleed or epistaxis.
There was a time when nosebleeds were treated by raising your head. This practice has been proven wrong as the blood trickles through the throat and makes things even worse.
Stop a nosebleed by having the patient sit down and pinch the soft part of the nose while leaning forward so the blood can flow into the nose and not down the throat. Remind the patient to breathe through the mouth.
Place an ice pack over the bridge of the nose. The broken vein should close after pinching the nose for 10 to 15 minutes.
As simple as this medical emergency is, nose bleeds can be fatal as seen in Episode 3 of Grey’s Anatomy Season 15. A patient came in with his nose bleeding but wasn’t taken seriously by intern Vikram Roy. After 5 hours, Roy found the patient where he left him and still bleeding. By that time, it was too late. The patient died later and Roy was fired.
If the bleeding doesn’t stop after 20 minutes or if the patient has lost an alarming amount of blood, he or she will need further medical assistance. Call 911 or take the patient to the hospital immediately.
Cleaning and Dressing Wounds
One of the most basic first aid skills that everyone should know is to cleaning and dressing a wound. First of all, this is not some macho thing where you take a huge swig from a bottle of whiskey or vodka then pour some on your wound before using a stapler to close your wound. Those can be done but only when you have nothing else to use.
Ideally, you should always have your first aid kit with you. Even when outside of your home, you should pack a personal first aid kit among your everyday carry. You should also have one in your car emergency kit and another in the get home bag you keep in your place of work.
Before touching any wound, wash your hands first with soap and water. If that’s not an option, use hand sanitizer. Once clean, put on a pair of disposable gloves.
If the wound is still bleeding, carefully press on it with a clean cloth or gauze. Don’t do this step with burns. Once the bleeding stops, you can start cleaning the wound.
Use clear water to rinse off dirt and debris from the wound then clean the area around it with a soft washcloth and soap. When you’re done washing the wound and there are still some dirt and debris, pluck them out carefully with clean tweezers.
Minor burns are cleaned by rinsing them under cool water for 10 to 15 minutes. Don’t use cold water. If there is no running water, cover the burn with a cool cloth also for 10 to 15 minutes.
Apply a little over-the-counter topical cream or skin antibiotics to keep infection at bay. Make sure you’re not allergic to the ingredients so you don’t end up worse than when you started.
Making a Splint and Sling
If you’re dealing with a broken bone, making a splint and sling are the two first aid skills you need. It’s important to immobilize the broken bone immediately so the injury will not worsen. It will also lessen the pain and keep the crying and shouting down a notch.
For a fractured arm, you need to immobilize the bone with a board splint. If you don’t have one, use a magazine, soft bound book or newspaper to wrap around the injured arm. Firmly tie the ends of the board or the magazine with cloth. Don’t tie too tight to avoid cutting off blood circulation. Finally, use a triangular bandage, scarf or bandana to make a sling. Watch how everything’s done here.
If the fracture is on the lower extremities, you need to examine the leg carefully first. Gently massage the leg downwards until the individual feels pain. This should tell you where the fracture is if there is no visible wound. Touch their feet, as well. If the victim can’t feel anything then blood is not circulating.
You can improvise a leg splint if you don’t have the right gear like the ones emergency medical teams use. These are important first aid skills for those who love to hike or climb mountains.
In this video above, they used a Therm-a-rest or foam pad to raise the leg above the cold ground. This is necessary to avoid hypothermia.
One classic first aid skill for bone fractures involves the use sticks or anything that are hard and straight along with a long piece of cloth, duct tape or paracord to stabilize the bone. While this will work in most occasions, the scenario above calls for the use of a wool jacket or anything to help immobilize the bone while also protecting the leg from the cold.
Art of Manliness also tackles lower leg fracture and how to provide first aid like a badass. This one talks about how Army medics deal with major trauma with broken bones to boot.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR is perhaps the most important of all first aid skills when you’re dealing with victims of drowning and hypothermia. Since the victims have lower metabolism because of their condition, they need less oxygen and blood.
That means you can perform CPR as long as possible without fear of causing brain damage. In fact, there are cases of people surviving after being given CPR for an hour.
In other medical emergencies, CPR can help but only up to a certain extent. It can only keep a person alive up to a particular amount of time. If you’re doing CPR for over ten minutes and there’s still no defribillator to restart the heart, the more likely that the victim will succumb.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should least prioritize learning CPR. Those first few minutes that you perform CPR will be vital. We’re only stressing that you should have access to a defribillator to increase the chances of the victim’s survival.
The first thing to do is call 911. It would be better if there’s someone else nearby who you can command to call for help. I said “command” because it’s important to point to someone and tell that person what to do. Otherwise, everyone will just be watching and waiting for others to do something. This is called the bystander effect.
Perform hands-only CPR. Place the heel of one hand in the middle of the chest then put your other hand on top of the first. Push hard and fast.
Of all the first aid skills, the Heimlich maneuver is the most popular one that’s named after someone. Before performing these abdominal thrusts, you have to make sure first that the patient is really choking on something. Simply ask the person and wait for the confirmation.
Ask the person to cough out the object first. If this doesn’t work, slap the back five times. No go? Your next move is to do the Heimlich maneuver.
Position yourself behind the individual and wrap your arms around him. Make a fist and place it somewhere between the ribcage and his belly button. Put your other hand over the fist.
Do five sudden upward thrusts then five more slaps to the back repeatedly until you dislodge whatever is choking him. Next, recognize all the people applauding your quick and brave act as you bask in the glory of saving someone’s life.
Treating Electrical Shock
It shouldn’t come as a shock that treating electrical shock is one of the first aid skills you should know. Around 300 people die from electrocution while another 4,000 suffer injuries each year. And that’s only from the U.S. workforce. As Electrocuted stressed, there are quite a number of people including children that are killed or injured from “accidental contact with floating phases, downed power lines or objects such as green wood or fences in contact with downed wires.”
The best way to treat electrical shock is to prevent it from happening. Be wary of downed lines. If you see something amiss, report it immediately and don’t try to fix it yourself unless that’s actually your job. If not, the best you can do is to warn everyone not to go near the downed line.
If someone does get electrocuted, turn the source of power off immediately. Use cardboard, wood or anything dry and doesn’t conduct electricity to move the source of electricity if you don’t know how to turn it off.
The victim will likely have severe burns and will have difficulty breathing and possibly lose consciousness. He may also suffer from arrhythmias, seizures, and cardiac arrest.
Perform CPR if the victim isn’t breathing. Use sterile gauze bandage to cover the burned parts. Avoid using towels or blankets.
These are just a few of the many basic first aid skills that everyone should master. We can’t just rely on emergency professionals to take care of yourself or a loved one during emergencies. They can’t always be there when you need them. The responsibility of applying first aid skills fall on you. Get proper training, build your first aid kit, and share what you know.
Visit Gentleman Pirate Club to know more about handling emergency situations. You’ll also find some valuable gear you could use for such emergencies.
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