Dr Tendai Zuze Matters of Health
The high number of deaths on our roads can be partly attributed to the fact that most accident victims do not get proper medical attention and first aid on time.
As we start the Heroes’ long weekend, would you know what to do if you or someone else was in an accident?
Below are some of the important things to do if you are one of the first people to get to the scene of an accident or if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in one yourself.
Ensure a safe environment: Take a good look at the situation and work out what’s going on. There could be several dangerous hazards involved at the scent of a traffic accident and these can include broken glass, fluids leaking from vehicles and other vehicles travelling on the road unaware of the accident. So your own safety is important.
Check yourself: check yourself for any injuries. Try to assess how well you can move your limbs, and if you experience symptoms such as dizziness etc. Remember you need to be fit enough to help the others.
Check the other person(s) for injuries: If other people are injured, first assess the extent of their injuries. Treat the quietest person first, they are usually more seriously injured or cannot breathe. People who can talk or scream, on the other hand, can breathe therefore can be treated a little later. Ask for the patient’s name, if he responds, it means he is able to understand the situation and has most likely not suffered a severe head injury.
Look for signs of breathing: Next, check if the person is breathing and if he has a pulse.
Call for help: Immediately call for an ambulance or rush the person to a hospital. Once you know more about the patient’s condition you will in a better position to tell the doctors about his/her condition.
Check for obstructions in the person’s mouth and throat: If you do not hear any breath sounds, check his/her mouth for any obstructions. If there is something obstructing the airway, use your index and middle finger to clear the airway.
Perform life saving techniques: If there is no pulse, start cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if you know how.
In grave situations: If there is bleeding from the mouth or the patient is vomiting, turn the person to his/her side. This will minimise any chances of the person choking.
Deal with open wounds: If there are extensive wounds, try to control the bleeding using pressure to the area using a cloth. Press down with your palms rather than your fingertips.
Always suspect spinal injuries: If the person’s neck is in an awkward position or the person is unconscious, do not move the patient. Get help immediately.
This could mean that the person’s neck is broken, and moving him/her in such a situation can cause more harm than good.
Keep the person warm: Usually accident victims feel excessively cold due to shock. Therefore keeping them warm is essential to survival. You can use whatever you have to do this, such as a T-shirt, jacket, etc.
Avoid feeding the person: Do not give the injured person any water, food or other fluids through the mouth; it could lead to the patient choking.
Should you be required to ferry an injured person to a hospital, you need to be mindful of the following:
The patient should be transported on a stretcher or a stiff board. This is important as reducing the amount of movement the person experiences is essential to avoid his/her injuries from becoming worse.
Keep the person’s neck and back straight. You could place a rolled up towel or thick cloth under the neck for better support.
Ensure that the person is lying down flat.
If there is only a limb injury, the patient can be transported in a sitting position.
In case of a bleeding injury, lift the injured part above the person’s body level and apply pressure on the region. Keep applying pressure till you reach the hospital. This helps control and eventually stop the bleeding.
Make sure the person has a pulse and is breathing on the way to the hospital. If they stop breathing, be prepared to start CPR in the vehicle.