Now is the time to check on your first aid kit supplies and brush up on your wound care procedures so that when accidents happen you are prepared and know what to do. We continue our series on first aid and emergency medical procedures, focusing this article on wound dressing and bandages.
Remember that in a medical emergency, time is of the essence, and what you do in those first few minutes can make the difference between life or death. Don’t feel like you can’t do anything because you do not have medical training. Rather equip yourself with the information you will need to be a helpful asset in an emergency.
There are various types of bandages, each with a specific purpose, including:
- Pressure pads – control bleeding and swelling.
- Supportive – supports limbs in a comfortable position.
- Protective – protects wounds or injuries and keeps wound dressing in place.
- Immobilisation – to immobilise limbs and keep splints in position
The triangular bandage is easy to use and can be used in three ways.
- The open bandage is used to support, such as a sling for an arm.
- The broad bandage (triangular bandage folded twice) – the point of the bandage is brought to the centre of the base, then it gets folded in half again in the same direction.
- The Narrow bandage – fold the broad bandage once more in the same direction.
Roller bandages come in different sizes. Use the right size according to the injury.
The roller bandage is to:
- Keep the wound dressing in place
- Controls swelling and bleeding
- Keep splints in position
- Support sprains and muscle injuries
Pressure pads come in different sizes. It is a short roller bandage but with a wound dressing attached to it. The padded part is placed on the wound to control bleeding and the attached roller bandage is used to secure it.
- Keep the loose end short
- Always use sterile dressings and bandages
- Cover the entire area of the wound
- Do not remove the dressing if blood seeps through, apply another one over it
- Keep finger tips and toes exposed for vital signs
- Always check pulse after applying a bandage
- Ask the patient if the bandage is not too tight
- Ask the patient if they experience pins and needles – which is a sign that the bandage is too tight
- Check for capillary refill by pressing the nail and releasing. Colour should return after 3 seconds, if not then the bandage is too tight.
- Don’t use wet bandages as they shrink when they dry. Except with burns and intestinal injuries where the bandage must be kept wet.
- Always make sure that your first aid kit is accessible.
Whenever you do not have bandages available, you must improvise. Just look around – there is always something you can use as a bandage, even your clothing that you are wearing. But always try to use clean material as to not infect the wounds. Try not to use materials that will adhere to the wound, infect it or disintegrate such as tissues, toilet paper and cotton wool
4. First Aid Kit
Your first aid kit can be a vital tool in case of an emergency. You should keep one in your car, one at your office and one for when you go out hiking or on outings. You should also keep all of these items in your medicine cabinet at home, in case of emergencies at home. The important thing is always to replace things once you have used them. Check your first aid kit regularly to make sure that everything you need is always there. Below is a list of the minimum requirements for your first aid kit.
- 100ml wound cleaner
- Swabs for cleaning wounds
- 100g cotton wool for padding
- 10 pieces of sterile gauze
- 1 pair of tweezers
- 1 pair of 100mm scissors
- 1 set of safety pins
- 4 triangular bandages
- 4 roller bandages 75mm x 5m
- 4 roller bandages 100mm x 5m
- 1 roll of elastic adhesive strip 25mm x 3m
- 1 non-allergenic adhesive strip 25mm x 3m
- 1 packet of adhesive dressing strip 25mm x 3m
- A pack of at least 10 adhesive dressing strips
- 4 first aid dressing 75mm x 100mm
- 4 first aid dressings 150mm x 200mm
- 2 straight slints
- 2 pairs large disposable latex gloves
- 2 pairs medium disposable latex gloves
- 2 CPR mouth pieces
- 1 blood spillage kit
- 1 Cold pack
- 1 rescue/ space blanket
- Burn dressing
- Cervical collar
- Notepad and pencil
- Emergency contacts
- A Torch and batteries
Other than these items you can take a look at your environment and see what other hazards there are and add additional items according to your environment.