Emergency Situations

In our modern society though people lead a regimented lifestyle, sudden emergencies can crop-up anytime. In such situations immediate medical-aid is required. Proper medical advice is required in these conditions. Some of the traumatic situations which anyone can encounter:

BURNS
CAUSES:
Burns can be of first, second and third degree depending upon its intensity. Common heat injuries can be due to fire, bursting of cracker, steam or hot liquids falling on the person accidentally. Burns can also be caused when any acidic chemical comes in contact with the skin. Severe burns affect muscles, fat and bones.

FIRST AID:
When a person has burnt any part of his body, the patient has to be removed from the heat source and his clothing from that area should be removed. Cover the person with a blanket if caught in a fire. Wash the burnt area with cold water. After cleaning the area and drying it an antibiotic ointment like Burnol, Soframycin should be applied. For severe burn cases hospitalization is a must.

ELECTRIC – SHOCK
CAUSES:
In the modern world most devices run on electric power. In this scenario there is always a possibility of unexpected electric shock due to current leakage, earthing problem, short circuit or some other device mal-function.

FIRST AID:
Remove the person from the power source by switching it off or unplugging the device. In case the power cannot be turned off, use an insulated object made of rubber, plastic or wood and push the person away from the power source. Common objects providing insulation are wooden stick, wooden chair, plastic handle, rubber gloves etc. Once the person has been removed from the current source, take the patient to the hospital immediately. The patient should be taken to the hospital for a check-up even if he/she is feeling fine as there may be internal injury.

MINOR - CUTS
CAUSES:

Any sharp object or broken glass can cause a cut, it can be caused by a fall or accident. Children can get cuts while playing or falling whereas adults can get cuts while working with sharp objects or machines. A cut can be caused due to carelessness.

FIRST AID:
Wash the wound with clean water and surrounding area with soap and water. Try to stop bleeding if it does not stop automatically by applying a gentle pressure with a bandage or clean cloth. For deep cuts apply pressure for 20-30 minutes and hold the wound in a raised position. If the bleeding does not stop take the patient to the hospital for stitches and dressing. After bleeding ceases apply antiseptic lotion like Dettol or Savlon. For deep wounds apply an antibiotic ointment like Neosprin or Soframycin and cover with a bandage. Change the dressing everyday till wound dries up. The tetanus shot taken by the injured must be current. If the cut has happened in the street or due to rusty object like nail, safety-pin etc. Tetanus-Toxoid (TT) injection must be given.

SPRAIN
CAUSES:
Sprain may occur while playing, due to a sudden fall or doing any strenuous work. Sprain is caused by a tear in the fiber of the ligament. Ligament are elastic bands which connect the bone joint and keep them in place. Common areas of sprain are ankle, knee, wrist or shoulder.

FIRST AID:
The usual treatment for a sprain is known as ‘RICE’ therapy. Firstly Rest the sprained joint by using crutches in case of a knee or ankle injury. A sling can be used in case of hand or shoulder injury. The second step is to Ice the area with a cold pack or compression to reduce swelling after injury. The third step is to Compress the area with an elastic bandage or ankle / elbow brace. Lastly keep the sprained area Elevated. In addiction some anti-inflammatory drug can be taken like Ibuprofen or Aspirin (if the age is 18 or above). For any serious sprain , doctor should be consulted at the earliest.

 

FALL
CAUSES:

Fall may be caused while playing, slipping or doing regular work. It is a very common form of injury. Most falls are minor with a few bruises, bumps or scratches but some may be serious causing concussion, seizure, broken bones or heavy bleeding.

FIRST AID:
Firstly ensure that the person falling has no serious or obvious injuries. In case of severe injury or any of the symptoms like Unconsciousness, difficulty in breathing, becoming sleeping with difficulty in getting up, Vomiting, Clear fluid or bleeding from ears, nose or mouth - then patient should be taken to a hospital immediately! In case of minor injury it could be a Sprain or a Cut for which First Aid is covered in this earlier sections.

SNAKE - BITE
CAUSES:

People can be bitten by snakes while walking through fields or meadows with tall grass or bushes, putting hand in pits or crevices to pick-up anything which has fallen into it or while rock/tree climbing. Snakes like to hide in covered places. Snakes can be venomous or non-venomous. Venomous (Poisonous) Snakes found in India are Cobra, Viper, Krait which are all deadly.

FIRST AID:
Whenever there is a snake-bite, the bloody discharge from the wound should be washed thoroughly with soap and water, a bandage should be tied 2-4 inches above the bite to prevent the venom from spreading. The area shouldn’t be moved and has to be raised. A wet compression is required to stop bleeding. The victim has to be taken to the nearby hospital to inject anti-snake venom. Antivenom should be ideally administered within 4 hours of the bite. The dosage varies with the degree of envenomation.

DOG – BITE
CAUSES:

Children maybe bitten by dogs while playing on the street or eating near them. Dogs may pounce on people when they get smell of food. Dogs usually bite when anyone steps on them while they are sleeping or when they are teased. Dogs (Canines) have rounded teeth and the pressure exerted by their jaws can cause significant damage to the tissues under the skin, including bones, muscles, tendons, blood vessels and nerves.

FIRST AID:
The wound has to be washed with normal saline (salt water) to irrigate out as much dirt and bacteria as possible. The injury must be kept elevated. Information should be obtained from the dog’s owner about the dog’s rabies immunization status. The victim’s tetanus status also needs to be current. If not, Tetanus-Toxoid injection to be taken immediately. The dog has to be kept under observation. If it shows rabies symptoms like excessive salivation or dies after few days of attacking any person, then Rabies Therapy has to start as soon as possible for the victim. If the treatment is initiated promptly, rabies can be prevented. In case of stray dog bites no chances should be taken and rabies treatment should be started immediately. If not treated and a person develops clinical signs of rabies, the infected almost always dies.

SCORPION – STING
CAUSES:
Scorpions can make home in clothes, shoes, sleeping bags etc. when people go for camping. They don’t bite but sting when people touch them inadvertently or come close to them accidentally. Scorpion stings are poisonous and the patient feels immediate pain or burning. Other symptoms can be numbness, difficulty in breathing, blurry vision or seizures. In some rare cases, pancreatitis may occur i.e. abdominal pain, chills, fever, sweating and nausea. Onset of symptoms is usually quite rapid and can last between 24-48 hours.

FIRST AID:
The area has to be washed with soap & water and ice compression to be given. The patient’s tetanus status should be recent. He should be taken to the nearest medical center for immediate treatment of removing the sting from his system.