Head Injuries (Concussions)
Broken or Dislocated Bones
Cuts are defined as any opening or breaking of the skin. Cuts are a common injury, and the first step in treating a cut is to determine whether it is a major or minor wound. A major wound is defined as any wound where:
The bleeding does not stop after five minutes of steady pressure
The victim has been bitten by an animal or human or deeply punctured by any dirty object
The wound has glass, dirt or metal embedded inside
The wound leads to swelling, fever or problems with movement or sensation
If any of these conditions are present, medical attention should be sought immediately.
All cuts, whether a major or minor cut, need first aid. In treating any cut, caregivers should always wash their hands with soap and water before and after treatment. Breathing or coughing on the wound should be avoided in order to prevent infection.
The most important goal is to stop the bleeding as much as possible by applying direct pressure to the wound. In the case of a wound with an embedded object, indirect pressure should be applied. This pressure will help to close the wound, thus stopping the bleeding and limiting further contamination of the wound.
If it is determined that a wound is not major, it should be cleaned thoroughly with mild soap and water, then covered with an antibiotic ointment and a clean bandage. It is advised not to attempt to clean a large wound, as this may cause excessive bleeding. Instead, cover it with a clean cloth and apply direct pressure.
Even when all precautions are taken, a wound may become infected. Wounds that are more likely to become infected are bites, punctures, dirty wounds and wounds that do not receive proper medical attention. Symptoms of infection include:
A painful, throbbing sensation
Heat in the area
An antibiotic should be applied to any infected wound, and professional medical attention may be needed to ensure proper healing.
Abrasions are very painful and prone to infection. It is important to thoroughly clean and treat the wound to prevent infection and minimize pain and scarring.
Follow the first aid procedure for cuts to stop bleeding, then wash the wound with a forceful stream of water to sweep away dirt, debris and germs. Use an irrigation syringe if available. Next, scrub the wound with antiseptic pads (which contain a topical anesthetic) or soap and water until no dirt or foreign material is visible. Rinse the wound again. If the scrubbing has started some bleeding, apply pressure with a sterile gauze pad or sponge. Once the bleeding has stopped, apply an antibiotic ointment and dress the wound with a non-adherent dressing. Bandage the dressing with elastic wrap or stretch gauze.
Head Injuries (Concussions)
A concussion is defined as an injury to the brain resulting from a significant blow to the head. Symptoms of concussions are irritability, fatigue, unconsciousness, disturbance of vision and equilibrium and impairment of brain functions, such as memory. In all but the most severe cases, a complete recovery from a concussion can be expected.
After a strong blow to the head, the victim should be monitored for the above-mentioned symptoms. If any of them are present, seek medical attention. There could be severe undiscovered problems, such as bleeding inside of the head. Signs that severe brain damage has occurred include repetitive vomiting, confused mental states, unequal pupils or sustained unconsciousness.
If the victim is unconscious, check the airway, breathing and circulation. If these are all functioning, treat the victim as if they have a spinal injury by stabilizing the neck. Do not move the victim.
If the victim is conscious, try to ascertain the severity of the injury by asking the victim questions such as how they were injured and what day it is. If the concussion occurred during a sporting event, ask questions involving the game, such as who scored last and what field they are playing on. Also ask if they are experiencing a headache or dizziness.
If it has been determined that the victim has suffered a concussion, they should be prevented from participating in that activity until all symptoms have gone away for an entire week. This is because a second concussion immediately following the first could result in permanent problems or even death.
Apply ice packs to any swollen area and give them over-the-counter pain medicine, preferably not aspirin.
If any of the symptoms worsen or last longer than a week, a magnetic resonance imaging or cat scan is recommended.
Spinal injuries should be treated with extreme care to prevent further injury. Symptoms include pain and stiffness in the neck or spine, inability to move arms or legs, tingling or numbness in arms or legs, inability to wiggle the toes, inability to feel the soles of the feet being touched, and loss of bladder or bowel control. If you suspect a victim might have a spinal injury but aren’t sure, treat it as a spinal injury.
Tell the victim not to move. If the victim is sitting up, support his or her head between your arms & gently lean the victim backward, making sure you keep the head & neck immobilized. Do not remove a helmet. If you must go for help, stabilize the head on both sides with objects.
Do not move the victim unless it is absolutely necessary for safety reasons, like if the victim is in dangerous place. In most cases, you should just stabilize the victim & wait for professional help to arrive.
Broken or Dislocated Bones
Broken or dislocated bones are serious medical conditions that require professional medical attention. The first aid procedures are similar for both emergencies.
A broken bone is also called a fracture, and is defined as an injury where the tissue of a bone is disrupted. Fractures are classified into two types. Simple, also known as closed, fractures are when the skin is not punctured as a result of the break. Compound, or open, fractures are when the break is severe enough to displace and break the skin. A compound fracture can become infected more easily than a simple fracture, and extra precautions, such as not breathing or coughing on the wound, should be taken when giving first aid to a victim of a compound fracture.
A dislocated bone is defined as the displacement of any body part from its normal location. It is often hard for a person without medical training to distinguish between a dislocated and broken bone.
The symptoms, which are similar for both broken and dislocated bones, include:
A visibly misshapen or out of place limb or joint
Swelling and bruising in the wounded area
Limitation of movement
The sensation of grinding when the injured part is moved
Paleness in the victim
If the victim is found lying down unconscious, first check the airway, breathing and circulation to assess whether CPR is needed.
If they are awake, try to calm the victim verbally. Discourage movement of any kind.
Diagnose the problem. If it is determined that the victim has either a broken or dislocated bone, never attempt to either "test" or straighten the misshapen bone or joint. If the victim is a young child, assume it is a broken or dislocated bone if the child cannot move the broken part or if they continue to cry when the wounded area is touched.
Cover any open wounds with clean cloth or a sterile bandage and raise the injury above the level of the heart, if possible. Never try to close a wound by trying to replace the displaced bone.
Do not move the victim unless the injured part is completely immobilized. If the injury is to the hip, pelvis or upper leg, do not move the victim unless it is absolutely necessary.
Use a splint or sling to stabilize and immobilize the injured area. A splint can be made from boards or sticks, and a sling can be made from clothing. Make sure splints extend beyond the injured area to prevent movement. The injured part can also be immobilized by taping it to an uninjured body part. Secure the splint with ties such as belts, tape, cloth strips or a necktie.
Continue to monitor circulation until medical help arrives.
Ice can be applied to the injury to ease pain and swelling.
To help prevent shock, lay the victim flat and cover with a coat or blanket. Continue to calm the victim verbally.
Sprains are a sudden or violent twist or wrench of a joint beyond its normal range that results in a stretching or tearing of the joint's ligaments. Sprains are a common injury, and the most frequently sprained part of the body is the ankle. It is estimated that there are 27,000 ankle sprains in the United States everyday. Other areas commonly sprained are the wrist, knee, finger and toe.
Sprains can happen while playing sports or as easily as landing awkwardly while stepping off a curb. Even though sprains are often quite painful, they usually do not require professional medical attention to heal properly. When giving aid to a person with a sprain, call for emergency medical assistance if a broken bone is suspected or if there is an audible popping sound and the victim has difficulty in using the joint.
The first aid procedure for treating sprains can be summarized by the acronym R.I.C.E., which stands for rest, ice, compression and immobilization, and elevation.
Rest – When someone sprains a part of their body, the person should immediately rest the injured part. Further exertion could result in more damage to the sprained area.
Ice – To help reduce swelling, ice should be applied immediately to a sprained area, either by a cold compress or wrapped in a towel or piece of clothing.
Compression and immobilization – The sprained area should be securely wrapped. Wrapping the area too tightly, however, could restrict circulation.
Elevation – The sprained part of the body should be elevated above the level of the heart. This is particularly true when sleeping.
Sprains often cause discoloration of the skin, usually in the form of bruises. Other symptoms include swelling.
It is advised to rest the sprained area for 7 to 10 days for mild sprains and three to five weeks for severe sprains.
A test to establish whether a sprained ankle is healed enough to resume activity is to hop up and down on that leg. If no pain is present when hopping, it is okay to resume activity, but it is recommended that a brace be worn until use of the injured joint is completely free of pain.
Cramps are caused by a buildup of lactic acid in the muscles or a loss of salt through perspiration. Treatment should include resting and stretching.
The eyes are one of the most vulnerable parts of the human anatomy, and injuries to the eye should be taken seriously. Injuries to the eye include eyeball scratches, small foreign bodies in the eye, larger objects stuck in the eye, chemical exposure, burns, cuts and blows to the eye. Washing your hands with soap and water should always precede treatment of any eye injury.
In the case of an eyeball scratch, do not apply pressure to the eye and get medical help.
If a small foreign body like sand or dirt enters the eye, normal blinking and tearing will usually remove the object. Do not allow yourself or the victim to rub the eye. If pain and redness continues, try to locate the foreign object by doing a visual search in a well-lighted area. If found, try to wash out the foreign object with water, or try to brush out the object by pulling the upper eyelid over the lashes of the lower eyelid. Do not use a cotton swab or tissue to lift out the object. If the object cannot be removed, or if it is removed and pain continues, cover the victim's eye with a clean cloth or sterile pad and seek medical help.
If a large object is sticking out of the eye, do not attempt to pull it out. This will likely do much more damage than good. Instead, bandage the eye on either side of the object and tape a paper cup or cone over the object so that it cannot be touched. Also cover the uninjured eye to discourage eye movement. While emergency medical attention is being sought, reassure the victim, keeping him or her as calm as possible.
If a harmful chemical substance has entered the victim's eye, use water to flush it out while waiting for medical help. Turn the victim's head on its side with the injured eye down and pour fresh water into the eye for at least 15 minutes. You may have to force the eye to remain open. If chemicals are in both eyes, have the victim flush out the eye by taking a shower. Contact lenses should be removed only after the eye has been thoroughly flushed out. After flushing the eye, cover both eyes with a clean cloth, even if only one eye is afflicted, as this discourages eye movement.
If an eye gets burned, flush it with water if it is not too painful for the victim. Lightly apply a cool compress without putting any pressure on the eye. Seek medical help.
If the eye has either been cut or received a hard blow, lightly apply a cool compress without putting any pressure on the eye, even if the eye is bleeding. If blood is pooling in the eye, cover both eyes with a clean cloth to deter eye movement and seek medical help.
Blisters can appear anywhere, but generally occur on the feet as a result of poor-fitting shoes that continually rub against the skin. As soon as a hot spot is felt, the boot and sock should be removed and adhesive tape or moleskin applied to the hot spot. If a blister arises and cannot be walked upon, try building up around it with dressings. If it must be lanced, insert a sterilized needle into the side and drain the fluid, then sterilize the area with an antiseptic.