An emergency can strike any time, and in many situations, knowledge of standard first-aid and CPR skills can help till medical aid arrives. It is necessary to teach basic skills to people including teenagers and elderly, so that emergency situations can be handled effectively.
Here are top four emergency management skills, suggested by Dr Mohammed Shakeel Md., Consultant and Head Emergency Department, Hiranandani Hospital Vashi - A Fortis Network Hospital, which will come handy during critical times.
Basic CPR skills
If someone has become unconscious suddenly, it is important to check the level of consciousness by gently tapping on both shoulders. If the person does not respond, immediately call for help and check the pulse by touching the neck just besides the wind pipe, and simultaneously looking at signs of breathing by observing the chest (it should rise for less than 10 seconds).
In case the pulse is absent, and you notice no breathing efforts, which confirms a cardiac arrest situation, chest compressions should be started by placing hands (palms down) on the centre of the chest. Make sure to keep the elbows straight and position your shoulders directly above your hands. The rate of compression should be 100-120 per minute; give 2 breaths to the affected person after every 30 compressions till help arrives. This must be learnt by a professional.
Falls and cuts
Children and elderly are common age groups who tend to experience frequent falls. Basic first aid skills are necessary to handle minor injuries like cuts, bruises or even fractures from these falls. For cuts and bruises it is important to clean the wound immediately with running water or antiseptic solution. Gentle compression of the wound is required in case of bleeding; place both hands on the affected area and gently compress.
For fractures, it is important to not move the injured body part. A splint has to be applied covering a joint above and below the injury, by using objects like cardboard, wooden stick, plank, etc. In case an object has pierced through the body, it is recommended that the injury be intact till medical help arrives. If there is excessive bleeding, gently compress the spot.
Fainting or loss of consciousness
If any person is found lying unconscious with the presence of a pulse, it is important to turn the patient to the left lateral position to avoid aspiration (food contents going into respiratory tract after vomiting/reflux). Always call for help and avoid giving anything to eat or drink in unconscious situations, which could lead to aspiration. If the person is diabetic, always check his/her blood sugar immediately as Hypoglycaemia is the most important factor leading to unconsciousness Electric shocks
High voltage shocks due to accidentally coming in contact with a power source or by mischievous exploration is commonly seen in adolescents and older adults, this is also a common occurrence during the monsoons. Do not allow children to play with any electrical cords, use outlet covers to protect infants from exploring electrical outlets.
If possible, it is ideal to immediately turn off the source of electricity. If not, move the person away from source by using a dry, non-conducting object made of cardboard, plastic or wood. Due not attempt to touch the victim directly. Once the victim is securely moved away from the power source, begin CPR if the victim shows no signs of consciousness, breathing or circulation Cover the burn area with a clean cloth or sterile gauze and seek medical help immediately.
Fully equipped first aid kit
Things to keep handy at home or at workplaces: Contact list of emergency caregivers in the area (local doctors, ambulance services, Police and Fire Brigade); and Contact list of familial caregivers who can respond in times of emergency.
It is imperative to first practice these skills with your loved ones, through mock drills, instil a sense of confidence in them to effectively combat any unforeseen event. This will help them and you carry out the emergency aid effectively in time of need. The most important factor is to stay calm and composed.