Are You Prepared to be a First Responder?
You don’t need to have formal training or obtain official certification to be a good first responder. In fact, as long as you have a basic set of life-saving skills, along with the experience and confidence to use them properly, you can play a vital role in stabilizing a patient until they can receive definitive medical care. Let’s take a look at some examples of a few skills that are most-commonly used by first responders, and you can decide whether or not they are worth learning- Just in case.
The first and foremost thing that first responders assess is whether a person is breathing and has a heart rate. We all know that it only takes a few minutes for cells to die and the body shut down as a result of oxygen deprivation. In as little as two minutes, permanent damage can begin occur to the heart, brain and other organs if blood bring fresh oxygen and exchange it for carbon dioxide. Knowing CPR gives you skills that can provide a bridge until more advanced life-saving measures can be applied. Those few, intervening minutes can mean all of the difference in the world in terms of giving a victim a fighting chance at living.
Aside from assisting with blood flow and breathing, the next important item on the first aid list of priorities is to control bleeding. Whether this is by applying pressure at the appropriate location, elevating and bandaging a wound or using a tourniquet, knowing what to do and when to do it can prevent a patient from going into shock and ultimately dying from blood loss. Since each injury is different, and the steps that will need to be taken to control bleeding are situation-specific, being familiar with various techniques will help you to make the right call at the right time.
One of the most common things that you will encounter in the field are sprains and broken bones. One of the most important things to do in these types of emergencies is to appropriately immobilize the affected area. This will help to prevent further injury, reduce pain and create conditions in which the injury can heal more efficiently.
Good immobilization techniques can also help someone to walk or limp their way out under their own power instead of needing to be carried. Again, how you act will depend on the situation at hand, so knowing how to immobilize a wide-range of injuries will put you at an advantage when faced with this type of situation.
Addressing Common Problems
First responders are often the first to administer epinephrine when someone has an allergic reaction to an insect bite. Others are familiar with the signs and symptoms of high or low blood sugar levels in people who have diabetes, and they are familiar with how to provide them with insulin or sugar as the case may be. This is important because many who suffer from severe attacks often do not have the presence of mind to manage these things themselves.
Finally, knowing the Heimlich maneuver and how to assist someone who is choking can be a life-saving skill in the field. Remember that food that blocks the airway can lead to suffocation, cardiac arrest and death, and oxygen deprivation for more than a minute or two can produce similar effects on the body as a heart attack. Your intervention can be crucial at a time when you and the patient are far from help.
Other responsibilities of first responders involve things like administering first aid, helping to reassure or keep a patient calm and delegating tasks to bystanders as needed. These are all not difficult skills to learn, and you can get them down pat with just a little bit of practice. The trick is to be confident enough to assess the situation quickly and act appropriately. Consider how you can hone your skills in order to be in a position to help if and when you encounter a medical emergency in the field. Your intervention could very well end up being what someone needs to get out alive.