Saving a LifebyPrincessErin©
There are very few skills that are considered so important that they are a matter of life and death. The following article discusses one of those very important skills.
First aid skills are a very important skill for every person to have. It is not restricted to those that work in the health care field or for those that feel it's important for use with their family or friends. Knowing how to save a life can be used at any time and with any one.
I could go on about all the different types of first aid emergencies and how to treat each type, but I feel it is better if I target one emergency that, without immediate assistance, will cause the individual to die. This emergency is an unconscious person who is not breathing.
The first step is to make sure the person really is unconscious. We used to call it "shake and shout", but you don't really want to shake the person. You want to tap the person's shoulders and wiggle their ears to make sure they aren't sleeping. Now if you witness this victim go unconscious then you do not need to do this step. This would be in the case of you entering a scene with an unconscious victim. Taking into consideration the situation is also important. Entering a pool area and seeing someone unconscious on a lounger would probably hint that the person is napping whereas someone unconscious in the middle of your living room probably indicates a problem.
Once you have determined that the individual is indeed unconscious, you need to call EMS. EMS stands for Emergency Medical Services. This is also known as 911 however, there are still pockets of residential areas both in Canada and the United States that are not serviced by 911. Of course, if you are in another country, your EMS number might be completely different. When you call you need to let them know whether you are on a cell phone or not because if you are, they will need an address and call back number. Land lines are normally set up to automatically show this information, but cell phones do not. They will ask you a lot of questions so you don't really need to memorize anything. Once you have called EMS, you can go onto the next step.
Turn the victim onto their back and open their airway. You can do this by pulling their jaw up towards the ceiling with two fingers shaped into a hook. You can also reach in and pull on their tongue, but that's just a little unsanitary. The reason you do this is that someone who is unconscious might have their tongue blocking their airway. They haven't necessarily stopped breathing, but the tongue is preventing air from getting into the lungs.
Put your ear to their mouth and nose and count to ten in your head. During that time you need to look, listen, and feel. You are looking to see if their chest is rising. You are listening and feeling for air on your ear. If the person is breathing just continue to hold the airway until help arrives (remember you already called for EMS).
If the person is not breathing, you will know because in the ten seconds you will not see, hear, or feel any air. If that is the case, you want to plug their nose and after sealing your lips to theirs, you want to breathe in two breaths of your own air. If this is a stranger or someone who might have a disease that can be transmitted through saliva you can skip this step. As a rescuer you should never put yourself in danger. With that said, unless you work in the health care field, you are statistically more likely to do first aid on a friend or family member so this does not concern you.
Once you have given the victim two breaths, you want to push on their chest. As crude as it sounds, you want to put both hands, one on top of the other, right between their nipples. We used to have some very complicated ways of landmarking however this is the easiest way. You want to push down on their chest thirty times in a row as hard and as fast as you can.
This will allow the heart to compress and deliver oxygenated blood to the brain. The longer the brain goes without oxygen the less chance a person has to survive. The most recent statistics show that for every minute that a person has no oxygen they have a ten percent less chance of surviving. That's a huge number when you consider that in most urban areas the response time for EMS is seven to fourteen minutes.
You want to continue this cycle of giving thirty compressions and two breaths until EMS arrives. You don't have to recheck their breathing or anything else. You want to continue because without this they do not have any chance of surviving.
Please be aware that this article is not to replace official first aid training. There are a lot of great organizations that run first aid courses and this should be a starting point for you. If nothing else reread this article and understand the power you have to one day save a life.
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