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Caring for the Injured - Basic Care

If you encounter someone who is injured, with the exception of those affected by chemical agents or spills, the following six steps should guide your action. These principles are the basis of first aid and care in any emergency situation:

  • Survey the scene to make sure the scene is safe for you and others.
  • Check the victim for responsiveness. If the person does not respond, call for professional emergency medical assistance (i.e. - call 9-1-1, or other local emergency number).
  • Check and care for life-threatening problems; check the person's airway, breathing and circulation, attend to severe bleeding and shock.
  • When appropriate, check and care for additional problems such as burns and injuries to muscles, bones and joints.
  • Keep monitoring the person's condition for lifethreatening problems while waiting for medical assistance to arrive.
  • Help the person rest in the most comfortable position and provide reassurance.
    These steps help keep you, the casualty and other bystanders safe and increase the casualty's chance of survival.
  • Following are some common injuries and the steps to take when providing care. Remember: Always apply the six emergency action principles (as explained above) for any injury or illness, and throughout the care.
  • Bleeding
  • Cover the wound with a dressing and place direct pressure on the wound.
  • Elevate the injured area above the level of the heart if you do not suspect a broken bone.
  • Cover the dressing with a roller bandage to hold the dressing.
  • If the bleeding does not stop and blood soaks through the bandage, apply additional dressings, pads and bandages without removing any of the blood-soaked dressings/pads.
  • Provide care for shock.
  • Encourage the person to lie down.
  • Help the victim maintain normal body temperature.
  • Stop the burning by cooling the burn with large amounts of clean, cool water.
  • Cover the burn with dry, clean, non-stick dressings or cloth.
  • Do not break blisters.
    Injuries to Muscles, Bones and Joints
  • Rest the injured part.
  • Avoid any movements that cause pain.
  • Immobilize the injured part before moving the victim and giving additional care.
  • Apply ice or a cold pack to control swelling and reduce pain.
  • Elevate the injured area to help slow the flow of blood and reduce swelling.

Exposure to Chemical Agents

If it appears that chemical agents are involved, do not approach the situation, leave the scene as quickly as possible. Leave this situation to the local authorities, which are better equipped to address and contain this type of accident or terrorist attack. People who may have come into contact with a biological or chemical agent may need to go through a decontamination procedure before receiving medical attention. Listen to the advice of local officials on the radio or television to determine what steps you will need to take to protect yourself and your family. Since emergency services will likely be overwhelmed, only call 9-1-1 about life-threatening emergencies.

Reduce Care-Giver Risks

The risk of getting a disease while giving first aid is extremely rare. However, to reduce the risk even further:

  • Avoid direct contact with blood, other body fluids and wounds.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water immediately after giving care.
  • Use protective equipment, such as disposable gloves and breathing barriers.
  • Be aware of biological/radiological exposure risks.

Assemble a first aid kit for your home and one for each car, to include:

  • First Aid manual
  • Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
  • Assorted safety pins
  • Cold pack
  • Eyewash solution
  • Cotton swabs
  • Cleansing agent/soap
  • Latex gloves (2 pairs)
  • Face shield
  • Sunscreen
  • 2-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
  • 4-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
  • Triangular bandages (3)
  • 2-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
  • 3-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
  • Arm Sling
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Needle
  • Moistened towelettes
  • Adhesive tape,
  • Antiseptic, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic towelettes
  • Hydrogen peroxide,
  • Lip balm
  • Thermometer
  • Tongue depressors (2)
  • Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
  • Nonprescription drugs: aspirin or other pain reliever, anti-diarrhea medication, antacid, and laxative
  • Personal prescription meds
  • It is recommended tht at least one person per family should take a standard first aid course.