Survival is not all about having food and shelter. While these are very important, there are also other skills that you need to have in order to survive. Medical emergencies can be some of the most dangerous and deadly incidents if you do not have the proper understanding on what to do and when to do it. I was recently reading through a military survival guide and it identified a few things that I wanted to pass along to you. If you find yourself in a situation where a medical emergency is happening, here are some important steps you should take.
First, it is imperative that you control your panic and the panic of the victim. Always take time to reassure the victim and try to keep them quiet. While it’s easy to let chaos take control in a medical emergency, you have to remain calm in order to think clearly and make rational decisions. Call for help right away, but if you don’t have access to medical personnel or a way to get help, here are some next steps.
Assess the Situation
Next, perform a physical exam. Finding the cause of the injury or the affected area is very important. While it is important to move quickly with first aid, discernment is key. Arterial bleeding can lead to death much faster than a blocked airway. If a person has a severe wound to a major artery, always work on slowing and stopping the bleeding before anything else is done.
Try to identify if the victim has a partial or complete blockage in the airway. If the victim can speak and/or cough, allow them to clear the obstruction on their own. If the airway is completely blocked then you will need to begin abdominal thrusts to remove the object. If this does not work then you could sweep the mouth with a finger. This is a good way to remove any item that could be obstructing the airway. Finally, when all else fails, try they jaw thrust method. For this method you will grab both sides of the jaw and pull up and out. Make sure the mouth is open.
Bleeding can be a life threatening emergency. There are three main types of bleeding that could occur. Arterial bleeding is the most severe type of emergency because rapid blood loss can quickly turn fatal. Arteries carry oxygen rich blood to the major portions of your body. An artery can produce a lot of blood in a short period of time. Vein bleeding is another form. Veins carry blood back to the heart and they do not have as much blood in them as an artery. Finally, capillary bleeding is the type of bleeding that you find in minor scraps and cuts.
In a survival scenario it is important that you control bleeding immediately because replacement fluids are not readily available. Bleeding can be controlled in several ways. Direct pressure, indirect pressure, elevation, tourniquet, and digital ligation are the best options for slowing the blood flow.
Direct pressure is all about holding a compress on the area. Direct pressure is the best place to start. However you must maintain enough pressure to stop the bleeding and you must hold it long enough to seal off the wound. If the bleeding does not stop after a few minutes, you might need to apply a pressure dressing. This is simply a bandage that is placed directly over the wound. The pressure bandage should be tighter than a regular bandage wrap.
The idea of using indirect pressure is all about utilizing the natural pressure points. Typically this would be compressing an artery above the injury such as the neck, inner arm, and side of knee, mid-groin area. Be very careful when applying pressure to the neck as you could cause the person to lose consciousness.
Using your fingers to hold a wound closed can be useful in stopping the blood loss. Simply place your finger(s) over the wound and hold the area together. The idea here is to hold the area together until the bleeding slows enough that you can place a pressure bandage on the wound.
Tourniquets should be a last resort. While they can be useful in stopping the loss of blood, it can also lead to more serious issues. Because the tourniquet cuts off the circulation to the rest of the area, it could lead to gangrene and loss of limb.
Shock is also a very real threat in any emergency situation. Always do your best to reassure the victim and to calm them down. However there are a few steps to follow to help treat shock. If the victim is conscious the best thing to do for them is to lay them down on a level surface and then elevate their legs a few inches.
Unconscious victims need to be placed on their side or their stomach. Turn the head to allow for the possibility that they vomit or bleed from the mouth. Do not allow them to choke because they are on their back.
Keep the victim warm. This might include building fires around them or covering them in blankets. Maintaining heat is key to treating shock. Remove any wet clothing immediately and replace the clothing with dry clothes.
If the victim is awake, provide warm liquids if possible. Try to administer warm sugar or salt solutions if you have them. If the victim is unconscious or if they have an abdominal wound, never give them fluids orally.
While medical emergencies can range from broken bones to choking to extreme blood loss, try to use common sense as your guide. Every prepper should enroll in a first aid course to know the basics of dealing with medical emergencies.
What other life saving tips do you have for medical emergencies?