The DIY guide to saving lives

Despite the way it might feel at times when you're having fun, gravity carries on working in much the same way as normal, as do things like fire, sharp objects and so on.

Sometimes you'll see people injuring themselves and, like it or not, the first person on the scene can sometimes be the only hope the casualty has of survival. Not only that, but that first person on the scene just turns out to be you. If that happens, this section is all about what you should do. So it's a good idea to read it now, before you need it!

We'll look at to do if someone:

1:  Is unconscious 
2:  Has broken bones
3:  Suffers burns 
4:  Suffers cuts  

But before you steam in

First just stop and look around. Check to see if there are any hazards, things (or people) that could hurt you.

Remember the person might be in serious trouble, but getting yourself into serious trouble as well isn't going to help. If something has fallen from a height don't forget to look up to see if there's anything else about to come down for example.

If you shout "Help this guy's dying" it might upset the person you're trying to help and panic everyone else, so don't. Stay calm. It might help to keep saying to yourself - “Don't panic”.

The biggest and by far the most important thing you can do in any emergency is to get things under control. If people are panicing, things are likely to get much worse. Getting the situation under control is 90% of solving the emergency, so do it.

What usually happens in a situation like this is people gather around to "rubber neck" to see what happened, then half a dozen people start giving advice all at the same time. The best thing to do is to calmly but firmly assume control and clear people away from the accident.

Don't let anyone touch the person 'till you've found out what's happened and have checked them out. If there is anyone there who knows better than you do, they'll make themselves known in a quiet way, accept their help.

Ask everyone if they know the person, if a friend is there, ask them to stay and if possible, help.

The most important bit. If you think you need an ambulance - get one, it will go away again if its not needed and no-one will complain, but do stay around to explain what happened to the crew.

It's times like this a mobile phone comes in useful, so if you don't have one a good thing to ask people as they gather round to look  is “has anyone got a phone?”.

Before making the phone call though, check the situation out so you know what to tell the operator and most importantly be sure you know where you are so you can give the address clearly. Believe it or not, you don't actually know where you are most of the time - at least not well enough to describe over the phone - so get that sorted before making the call.

If you have to make a choice between two injured people, go to the quiet one first, someone making a lot of noise is still alive.

If the casualty has fallen or been hit by something or there's a lot of blood - don't move them yet.

Shock for the accident victim:

Shock can be caused by blood loss, loss of body fluid and severe pain amongst other things. If the person is going into shock, they will look pale or grey, their skin will feel cold and clammy and they'll sweat a lot. Also they might feel sick (and might be sick), complain of thirst and feel anxious, the pulse speeds up and gets shallower, breathing becomes shallow and rapid. They may lose consciousness.

Shock is very serious.

Treat the injury and lay the casualty down, if they're going to be sick, place in the recovery position. If they complain of thirst, moisten the lips with water but don't give them a drink. Don't let them smoke and don't give them any drugs. Get them off to hospital as quickly as possible. If someone can comfort the person it will help, talk in a low voice, cradle their head. Keep the environment calm, move the onlookers away, if there's loud music get it turned off.

Even if the casualty is unconscious, keep talking to them because hearing is the last sense to fail.

Shock for the first aider

If you're involved in a nasty accident (especially if you see it happen), then you are likely to suffer a form of shock yourself, its called "post traumatic stress disorder".  It will catch up with you sometime later and you'll know when you get it, you'll have nightmares and a strange guilty conscience. This is quite natural and it will pass. The best way to deal with it is to have someone to talk to, better is to take the name of the accident casualty at the time of the accident and make contact with them afterwards. This bad feeling is much reduced if you know in your heart you did everything you could do at the time.

Knowing basic first aid like this really can mean the difference between life and death, the other difficult bit though is actually going through with it, but you'll be surprised at what you can do if you have to.

Sometimes you may come under pressure to move the casualty to somewhere else. If you think the injury is serious - particularly with falls with broken bones or serious cuts where there is a lot of blood loss - and there is no risk of further injury where you are, stand your ground and don't let anyone try to move the injured person. Moving them may cause other, serious problems.

As the first aider, you are in charge, be firm, stand your ground.

As soon as someone who knows what they're doing turns up let them take over. Stay around to help, but don't get in the way.


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