I spent yesterday doing my first aid course. As a health professional, it is essential for me to refresh my first aid skills at least every three years, but to be honest knowing first aid is just as important in a makeup artistry role. Weddings are disaster magnets; and backstage nerves and theatre stunts are more likely to result in injuries than the average naturopathy consult. It’s important for everyone to know basic first aid, because no matter what your job role is, all of us are surrounded by people with medical conditions. Most of us drive. Many of us go bushwalking, play sport or go surfing. I myself have had to call an ambulance before for a stranger, and at least three of my close family members have had to perform CPR in life-threatening situations. It could definitely happen to you.
The info contained in this post is by no means a replacement for undertaking formal first aid training. If you have never done first aid before, I highly recommend completing a course. If you have done first aid before but it’s been a while, these little tips may help to refresh your memory. These points are based on Australian first aid recommendations, which vary as new statistics and research become available.
Here’s a little summary of some interesting and important points I picked up from my trainer yesterday:
Current Australian CPR guidelines are 30 compressions (at a rate of 2/second) to 2 breaths.
- Always follow DRSABCD no matter what the situation is (you might not get to the last few points). Danger| Response | Send for help | Airway | Breathing | Circulation | Defibrillation
- When checking for a response, kick the side of the foot, not the bottom. This way the vibrations won’t travel up the spine.
- While an adult’s airway is open when the head is tilted far back, an infant’s airway is open when the head is in neutral (tilting a baby’s head back closes the airway).
Make sure your children and grandchildren know their address! Many 000 calls from children become complicated because they don’t know where they are.
- Download the free app Emergency+ which has all the emergency services numbers and also tell you your exact location by latitude and longitude. This means that if ever you are in a situation where ambulance officers are unable to access you, they can send medication or a defibrillator via a drone.
- The purpose of CPR is to keep the brain cells oxygenated and alive. It only take 3-5 minutes without oxygen for the brain cells to start dying.
- Using a spacer with a ventolin inhaler has been proven to make the medication 6 times more effective. The medication has an affinity for oxygen, so when it is sprayed into a spacer it attaches to oxygen in the air and is more easily inhaled into the lungs. When it is sprayed directly into the mouth it attaches to oxygen in the saliva and also sticks to the surfaces of the mouth meaning a large amount is ingested rather than entering the lungs.
- When someone is choking, the Heimlich maneuver (as demonstrated in Mrs Doubtfire) is not recommended as the force can rupture internal organs such as the spleen, intestines or liver. What is recommended is to give five very hard blows between the shoulder blades with an open hand, while getting the person to hold onto the back of a chair so they don’t fall on their face. If that doesn’t work you may need to give five hard chest thrusts which can be done against the wall if they are conscious, or on the floor if they are not.
- When performing first aid on a stranger, wear your sunglasses to protect your eyes from any fluids they may spit or vomit up.
- If assisting someone who has been in a motorbike accident, leave their helmet on to protect the spine, unless breathing has stopped in which case you have to take it off (carefully) to do CPR.
- A cardigan, newspaper or towel can work as an improvised neck brace.
Circulation and breathing are always the priority. It is important to preserve the spine, but if the person stops breathing and you can’t do CPR without moving them, in that case it would be better to move them, taking what precautions you can.
- Bleeding becomes a major priority only when the person is breathing normally or is losing a large amount of blood. In some cases bleeding has to be quickly controlled before CPR can commence to ensure you are not pumping blood out of the body.
- Snake venom travels via the lymphatic system, not the blood vessels. The lymph moves only when the skeletal muscles are moved which is why immobilising the affected area and using a compression bandage can minimise the systemic spread of the venom.
- When in an emergency situation where you have decided to drive to the hospital, if possible, always get someone else to drive while you monitor the patient. Even if it’s just a total random or a next door neighbour you’ve never spoken to, most people will not refuse and it could prevent you having an accident on the way to the hospital. In many cases it is better to call an ambulance.
- Soft tissue injuries like strains and sprains are still best managed by RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Most people (boys!!) fail on the first point: rest! It’s important.
- If someone has had an injury or episode where you suspect surgery may be required, consider not giving too much fluid or food by mouth as anaethetists usually wait 4 hours from the last meal before putting someone under for surgery.
- Free counselling is available for first aiders or bystanders who are traumatised after an incident.
- Always use your best judgement, ask consent (when the patient is conscious), remember that doing something is better than nothing and always call 000.