What to do when faced with a medical emergency

2018-12-26 06:00
PHOTOS: sourced

PHOTOS: sourced

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“Wherever you may find yourself this holiday season, the key thing to remember should you be faced with an emergency is to try and stay calm and remember the contact telephone number of an emergency medical service provider. Please rest assured that the operator on the other end of the line is experienced in medical emergencies and can advise you on what to do until professional help arrives,” says David Stanton, head of clinical leadership at Netcare 911.

What to do in the event of drowning

• Get the victim out of the water as soon as possible. Make sure it is safe for you to enter the water first.

• Handle the person with care. Many submersion incidents are associated with neck injuries, so keep movement to the back and neck to a minimum.

• Assess to see if the person is awake by asking, “Hello, can you hear me?” and check for breathing by looking at the chest for no longer than 10 seconds. If the person is not breathing or not breathing normally (i.e. gasping), call immediately for medical assistance.

• Call, or have someone call, a recognised medical emergency service provider such as Netcare 911 on 082 911 ASAP.

• If the person is not breathing, immediately start CPR, beginning with chest compressions. Keep doing CPR at a ratio of 30 chest compressions, and then two breaths. Keep on doing it until someone who is trained in advanced life support arrives and can take over.

What to do in the event of a road accident

• The very first thing you have to do is to ensure your own safety. Is it safe for you to be around the accident scene? Stop in a safe place, with your hazard lights on, and put a warning triangle a fair distance from the scene to alert motorists to the possible danger ahead.

• Look around the scene for any possible hazards. These may include petrol or diesel leaks, fire, oncoming traffic, dangerous animals or hostile bystanders.

• Assess the scene and see if there are any injuries. If there are, make sure that you phone for help by dialling an emergency medical services provider. Remember to give the call taker your number in case the call gets cut off.

• Do not move an injured person unless absolutely necessary as you may cause further injury, especially if the person has suffered spinal injuries. If there are any patients who are bleeding heavily, try to stop the bleeding by compressing the wound with a clean towel or piece of clothing.

“... Never touch an open wound or any bodily fluids of another person if you do not have the necessary protective gear... Wait for emergency medical services to arrive and assist where required,” notes Stanton.

What to do in the event of a burn

• Remain calm

• Extinguish flames (if any) — If a person’s clothing has caught alight, they must STOP, DROP and ROLL to extinguish the flames.

• Look after your own safety — If the patient has an electrical burn and is still in contact with the electrical source, switch off the electricity before assisting them. If you cannot switch off the electricity, use an object that does not conduct electricity to separate the person from the power source.

“In the case of burns, the first thing to do is to remove the patient from the source of the burn. Hold the burnt part of the body under running water until it becomes less painful. Do not use ice or hot water – the normal cold water tap provides the ideal temperature. Finally, cover the burn with a hydrogel dressing. As a general rule, burns bigger than the patient’s hand should be seen by a doctor in a hospital,” explains Stanton.

How to report an emergency

Dial the emergency services number. When the call is answered, begin by stating “I have an emergency …” Give your name and contact number clearly so that we will have a means of contacting you. Immediately state whether it is a life-threatening situation and be specific about the nature of the emergency. Give your exact location and the physical address or location where the individuals requiring assistance can be found.

The mySOS app sends an alert to Netcare 911’s national emergency operations centre, or other relevant emergency services. The mySOS app can be downloaded for free from https://www.mysos.co.za/download.html.

For special healthcare advice refer to the Helping Hand section at www.netcare911.co.za/Helping-Hand.


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