How to Protect Yourself When Giving First Aid
What Should You Do in an Emergency? First, Call the Paramedics ASAP - Then Follow These Steps
First Aid Basics
Whether you work in a school, community center, or a business, emergencies can happen suddenly and usually when you least expect them. If your neighborhood is affected this year by a tornado, a flood, an earthquake or a storm, would you be prepared to take care of injured friends or family members. Would you know how to correctly apply pressure to a gaping wound, perform CPR, bandage a cut, or give similar aid to someone who is injured?
In addition, do you know the first step in applying First Aid to others ... making sure you can help them safely without getting injured ourselves? I have found that when the urge to help another person sweeps over us, we can unintentionally put ourselves at risk ... running into the street after an auto accident, or trying to get into a burning building to rescue victims, for example.
Many of us would rush to help anyone we saw injured, often without thinking about our own safety. Paramedics and other emergency personnel encourage us all to learn a few basic procedures so they do not have worry about finding two victims when they arrive! What steps do you need to take to make sure that you don't get injured, too?
Everyone Should Own a First Aid Kit and Keep It in a Handy Place
It is important that everyone keep basic First Aid supplies in their homes. You can either purchase the items individually or buy a kit like this one. I also think it is a good idea to keep a First Aid kit in your car, especially if you ever drive in rural areas or camping in places where it could take a while for rescuers to arrive.
Be Sure You are in a Safe Location before Giving First Aid
First, make sure it is safe for you to give First Aid. Don't run into the street, squat down on a railroad track, or slide down the face of a steep slope in order to render First Aid. If you believe that the victim may have been electrocuted, make sure that the electricity has been turned off before you begin to help. There is no benefit to you being electrocuted, too.
In most emergency situations, try not to move the body unless the victim is in immediate danger of being hit by a train or car, or injured in some other way. Otherwise, make the patient comfortable if you can, call 911 or your local emergency number for help, and wait for paramedics to arrive. They will have the necessary equipment to deal with that steep slope, electric shock, broken bones or other dangerous situation. Unless you are in a very remote area, they will usually be there in less than 10 to 15 minutes.
Keep a First Aid Guide Handy in Your Car and Home
Along with First Aid supplies in your home and, possibly, in your car, I have found it handy to keep a guide handy. This is the one which was used as a textbook when I took my First Aid classes, and I still keep it in a convenient place so I can refer to it when I am uncertain how to treat a wound or injury.
Protect Yourself from Body Fluids during First Aid
When rendering First Aid to a victim who is a stranger, avoid contact with their blood and other body fluids. Use rubber gloves and a mask, if they are available. If not, use clean fabric or your clothing to protect you. In particular, you want to be careful to avoid getting blood or other body fluids in your mouth, eyes or on any part of your body that has been cut or scraped. Being exposed to the blood of an injured person could expose you to the HIV / AIDS virus, or other dangerous blood pathogens.
Because of these concerns, do not touch your mouth, nose or eyes while giving First Aid to a stranger and, of course, never eat or drink anything while giving First Aid. Wait until you have had an opportunity to thoroughly clean yourself. After you have given First Aid, wash your hands immediately with soap and water. Also wash any other parts of your body that might have touched the victim.
Protecting Yourself after the Emergency
When the emergency is over, remove any contaminated clothing as soon as possible and launder them or dispose of them. Keep blood contaminated clothing in a plastic bag until they can be cleaned or discarded. Finally, take a shower and get yourself completely cleaned off. Even though you should have already washed your hands, you may have inadvertently touched other parts of your body, or been exposed to body fluids that you didn’t notice in the heat of the moment.
By taking these steps before, during and after the emergency, you will significantly reduce the chances that you will have been injured during the emergency, or infected by any bacteria or viruses the victim may have been carrying.
In addition, while you are taking steps to protect yourself from their body fluids, you are also protecting the victim from being exposed to any harmful bacteria that you may be carrying! Exercising good hygiene is an excellent precaution for everyone at the scene of an emergency.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2012 Deborah-Diane