Accidents and emergencies happen all the time. But it is often what you do in the few moments or minutes after the incident that can result in either life or death. If you are a Helivac Member, you understand the importance of those first few moments after an emergency has taken place and getting the best care to your loved ones as soon as possible. Another thing you can do is to be properly prepared should an emergency occur.
We want you to use some of the articles on the website as a tool to help you equip yourself and your family, with the knowledge you need to respond to an emergency situation well.
We recently did a blog which focused on THE VITAL SIGNS YOU SHOULD LOOK FOR WHEN A MEDICAL EMERGENCY TAKES PLACE.
This blog will focus on what to do as you approach the scene of an emergency and how to go about examining a patient in order to give them the best chance of survival.
Examining a patient
The first thing to remember when approaching the scene of an emergency is to never rush in! Always stop for a second. STOP is a useful acronym that you can use to remember what to do first:
S – Stop – don’t rush in.
T – Think – about what has happened
O – Observe what is happening around you and the patient
P – Plan how you are going to approach the scene and how to should proceed to help
1. Check the surroundings
Make sure that the environment is safe for you to approach the patient. Remember that if you get hurt you will not be of any help to the patient. Also, try to assess what happened to the patient. If the patient is in danger, try to move them to safety without worsening their injuries.
Potential dangers at the scene:
- In Traffic put up warning triangles or beacons to try and divert traffic.
- Moving machinery must be turned off.
- In a fire, try to move the patient away and extinguish the fire.
- With hazardous chemicals/fumes, remove the patient and get them into a well ventilated area with open doors and windows.
- Live electricity should be switched off and the patient moved away from electricity conductors.
- In water, remove the victim from the water and place them on higher ground.
- If surrounded by shrapnel or broken glass, try to sweep them away safely.
- Surrounded by weapons such as knives or guns, do not touch them and try to move the patient away from them.
2. Look for clues
Look for clues that might help you diagnose the problem of what happened to the patient. You can look for a medic alert bracelet, or items lying around such as medicine containers, a fallen ladder, electrical appliances or machinery. Also note the position you found the patient in and any visible injuries.
3. Initial examination of the patient
The initial examination of the patient is critical as it will help you to establish the nature and severity of the person’s injuries and guide you as to what to do next. For this examination try to remember the acronym: HHH ABCDEF which will help you to remember what to do. Try to do aspects H-C as quickly as possible – within the first 60 seconds – as these are life threatening checks and may save the person’s life.
- Hazards – Make sure that you are safe before you check the patient.
- Hello – Speak to the patient and try to ascertain the patient’s level of consciousness and obtain their consent to examine and try to help them. If the patient is unconscious and unresponsive you could ask a parent or relative if there is one there for permission to examine and help the patient.
- Help – Call for emergency services or ask another bystander to call for help. Also, ask any other bystanders if they have any medical training and could help you care for the patient.
Never leave the patient alone. If the patient is a Helivac Member call the Helivac Call Centre on 0861 HELIVAC.
Other emergency numbers include:
The flying squad – 10111
The national ambulance and fire brigade services – 10177
National emergency number – 112 (no airtime needed)
Netcare 911 – 082 911
ER24 – 084124
- Airways – Check the patient’s airways to see if they are open and free of obstruction. If the patient is unconscious, place one hand on the forehead and the other hand under the chin and gently tilt the patients head backwards to open the airways.
- Breathing – Check if the patient is breathing. If the patient is unconscious, place your cheek next to the patient’s mouth and feel for breath while watching the chest for any breathing movements. If there is no sign of breathing CPR must be started immediately and continue until emergency services personal arrive. For details of how to administer CPR click here.
- Circulation – Check if there are any signs of life such as a beating heart. Check the patient’s wrist and neck with your fingers to feel for a pulse which would indicate a beating heart. If there is no sign of life, start CPR immediately and continue until emergency services personal arrive. For details of how to administer CPR click here.
- Dangerous injuries – Check if the patient has any visible dangerous, life threatening injuries. Look for and treat any visible injuries that could disable a patient or put their life in danger, such as serious bleeding. Treat the injuries you can see, starting with the most serious first.
- Evaluate – Evaluate the patient and ensure that every injury that is visible has been attended to.
- Follow-up – Always do a secondary examination to ensure the patient is stable and all vital signs are present. Monitor the patient for any changes in condition. Monitor the person for the following every 10-15 minutes until emergency services arrive on the scene.
- Breathing – count every time the patient exhales in a minute.
- Pulse – count the patients pulse rate in a minute.
- Skin colour, texture and temperature.
- Level of consciousness.
- Pupil size and reaction.
- Spontaneous movement.
- Circulation below injuries.
- Signs of shock.
If possible, place the patient in the recovery position. The recovery position is to place the patient on their side with one arm at a right angle and the other hand under the cheek. The knees pulled up towards the body and the airways open. Never leave them alone until emergency services personnel take over.
Take the time to study this list of procedures to adequately equip yourself to respond in case of an emergency. Pass it on to friends and share it with other family members -Planning now could make all the difference in a life threatening situation.