DO YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO IN AN EMERGENCY?
How many of us are really prepared for a true emergency, whether at work or home? Accidents happen quickly, and must be addressed as soon as possible. If you witness a traffic accident, what would be the first thing you would do? The sensible thing would be to call 911 first and then try to help if at all possible. The best advice for you to follow when a co-worker, family member, or any other person is injured is to stay calm and evaluate the situation. If you have received first aid training, you are prepared to render help you have been qualified to give, but be aware of your limitations. Keeping a first aid kit handy at work, home, and in your vehicle is a great idea, as you never know when you may need it.
Let’s review certain scenarios and what to do:
v Heavy bleeding: control by applying direct pressure to the source. Be sure to elevate the wound above the victim’s heart.
v Chemical burn: flush eyes or skin with cold water for 15 minutes. Victim should then be taken to an emergency room.
v Nonchemical burns: soak a small burn in cold water (burn covering 15% or less of an adult’s body or 10% of a child’s body.) Large burns should not been treated with water. Make the person as comfortable as possible, and get help.
v Shock: Call 911. A person in shock must have immediate medical treatment. Elevate feet above the heart while the person lies down. In order to prevent choking, place person on their side if they begin to vomit or bleed from the mouth. Keep the person warm by covering them, and loosen tight clothes that may restrict blood flow.
v If you feel the person injured may have a neck or spine injury, do not move him or her. Have someone else go for help. Keep the person covered.
v Choking: This is a horrible situation for both the person who is choking and the onlooker. The universal signal for choking is clutching the throat with both hands. If the person cannot speak or cough, they need your help. Immediately have someone call 911. While help is on the way, stand behind the choked person and give five firm blows between shoulder blades with the heel of your hand. Then proceed with abdominal thrusts. Place your fist above their naval and wrap your other hand around the wrist and give five upward thrusts. (This procedure is the Heimlich maneuver.) If the person loses consciousness, lay them on their back, sweep mouth with your finger to check for food or another obstruction. CPR chest compressions may be able to dislodge the item.
Back in the 1960’s, my dad helped a co-worker who experienced a heart attack at work. He immediately told others to call for an ambulance while he began giving him CPR. This man was a good friend, as well, and he recovered from the heart attack and lived six more years. His family was very thankful that my dad knew what to do, and credited him with giving them more time with their dad. I think there were angels watching over all of them; but it makes me very proud of his quick actions and care.
Persons are fortunate if they work for companies that have regular safety meetings and CPR classes that teach them how to prepare for these and other emergent situations. Individuals who want to be ready to help victims can do so by enrolling in first aid classes either through fire departments, EMS systems, and many public health agencies.