Although each case of injury or sickness presents its own special problems, there are some general rules that apply to practically all situations. Before proceeding to learn the specific first-aid treatment for various types of injuries, you should have a thorough understanding of the following rules:
1. Keep the victim lying down, with his head level with his body, until you have determined what type of injury the person has and how serious it is; however, if the victim has one of the following problems, you need to place him in a different position:
a. Vomiting or bleeding about the mouth and semiconscious. When the victim is in danger of sucking in blood, vomited matter, or water, place him on his side or back, with his head turned to one side, lower than his feet.
b. Shortness of breath. When the victim has a chest injury or breathing difficulties, place him in a sitting or semisitting position.
c. Shock When the victim is in shock place him on his back with his head slightly lower than his feet. When injuries permit, the victim's feet should be raised and supported 6 to 12 inches off the deck.
2. In examining the victim, move him no more than is absolutely necessary. You may need to remove some clothing to determine the extent of his injuries. Remove enough clothing to get a clear idea of the extent of the injury. If done incorrect y, removing clothing may do great harm, especially in fracture injuries. When necessary, rip or cut the clothing along the seams. When clothing is removed, ensure the victim does not become chilled. Shoes may have to be cut off to avoid causing pain or increasing an injury.
3. Keep the victim reassured and as comfortable as possible. Often a restoration of confidence is very helpful. Assure the victim that his injuries are understood and that he will receive medical attention as soon as possible.
4. Do not touch open wounds or bums with your fingers or other objects, except when sterile compresses or bandages are not available and it is absolutely necessary to stop severe bleeding.
5. Do not try to give an unconscious person solid
food or liquid by mouth. The victim may vomit and get some of the material into his lungs when he breathes, causing choking. Death could result.
6. When a bone is broken or when you suspect that one is broken, do not move the victim until you have immobilized the injured part. This may prove to be lifesaving in cases of severe bone fractures or spinal cord injuries, because a jagged bone may sever nerves and blood vessels, damage tissues, and increase shock. Of course, the threat of fire and other similar situations may require that the victim be moved. But the principle should always be kept firmly in mind and considered against other factors.
7. When transporting an injured person, always make sure the litter is carried feet forward no matter what injuries the victim has. This enables the rear bearer to observe the victim for any respiratory obstruction or breathing problem.
8. Keep the injured person comfortably warm-warm enough to maintain normal body temperature. Very serious and mutilating injuries may require heroic first-aid measures on your part. Most injuries require minimum physical effort but a maximum effort in judgment and self-control to prevent everyone from trying to do too much.
Basic life support is a term you have probably heard before. It consists of emergency techniques for recognizing and treating failures of the respiratory system and heart function. The primary emphasis is placed on maintaining an open AIRWAY to counter upper-airway obstruction, restoring BREATHING to counter respiratory arrest, and restoring CIRCULATION to counter cardiac arrest. These are the ABCs of basic life support. This chapter attempts to cover some of the essentials of basic life support. Remember: this chapter does not substitute for a formal course in basic life support. Formal courses, such as those given by the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association, provide hands-on training, using manikins. This training is essential for proper execution of the emergency techniques necessary in basic life support.