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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

First Aid Basics
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First Aid Basics

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What is first aid? It is simply those things you can do for the victim before medical help arrives. The most important procedures are described below. - By National Ag Safety Database

GET MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR ALL INJURIES

It is very important for you to get immediate treatment for every injury, regardless how small you may think it is. Many cases have been reported where a small unimportant injury, such as a splinter wound or a puncture wound, quickly led to an infection, threatening the health and limb of the employee. Even the smallest scratch is large enough for dangerous germs to enter, and in large bruises or deep cuts, germs come in by the millions.

Immediate examination and treatment is necessary for every injury, and have your Safety Officer fill out a CA-1 form (or any other necessary forms) to document your injury.

A CA-1 form is a "Notice of Injury" should be filed no later than 30 days from the date of injury. 


CONTROL BLEEDING WITH PRESSURE

Bleeding is the most visible result of an injury. Each of us has between five and six quarts of blood in our body. Most people can lose a small amount of blood with no problem, but if a quart or more is quickly lost, it could lead to shock and/or death.

  • One of the best ways to treat bleeding is to place a clean cloth on the wound and apply pressure with the palm of your hand until the bleeding stops.

    Stop the bleeding
  • Elevate the wound above the victim's heart, if possible, to slow down the bleeding at the wound site.

  • Apply pressure to the nearest supplying blood vessel (major pressure point) located either on the inside of the upper arm between the shoulder and elbow, or in the groin area where the leg joins the body.

Direct pressure is better than a pressure point or a tourniquet because direct pressure stops blood circulation only at the wound.

Once the bleeding stops, do not try to remove the cloth that is against the open wound as it could disturb the blood clotting and restart the bleeding. Only use the pressure points if elevation and direct pressure haven't controlled the bleeding.

Never use a tourniquet (a device, such as a bandage twisted tight with a stick, to control the flow of blood) except in response to an extreme emergency, such as a severed arm or leg. Tourniquets can damage nerves and blood vessels and can cause the victim to lose an arm or leg.


TREAT PHYSICAL SHOCK QUICKLY

Shock can threaten the life of the victim of an injury if it is not treated quickly.  Even if the injury doesn't directly cause death, the victim can go into shock and die. Shock occurs when the body's important functions are threatened by not getting enough blood or when the major organs and tissues don't receive enough oxygen. Some of the symptoms of shock are a pale or bluish skin color that is cold to the touch, vomiting, dull and sunken eyes, and unusual thirst.

Treat Shock

Shock requires medical treatment to be reversed, so all you can do is prevent it from getting worse.

  • Generally, keep the victim lying flat on the back.
  • Maintain an open airway for breathing
  • Control any obvious bleeding and elevate the legs about 12 inches unless an injury makes it impossible.
  • Prevent the loss of body heat by covering the victim (over and under) with blankets.
  • Do not give the victim anything to eat or drink because this may cause vomiting. 

A victim who is unconscious or bleeding from the mouth should lie on one side so breathing is easier. Stay with the victim until medical help arrives.


MOVE THE INJURED PERSON ONLY WHEN ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY

moving away from danger

Never move an injured person unless there is a fire or when explosives are involved. The major concern with moving an injured person is making the injury worse, which is especially true with spinal cord injuries.

If you must move an injured person, try to drag him or her by the clothing around the neck or shoulder area. If possible, drag the person onto a blanket or large cloth and then drag the blanket. 



PERFORM THE HEIMLICH MANEUVER ON CHOKING VICTIMS

heimlich maneuver

Ask the victim to cough, speak, or breathe. If the victim can do none of these things:

  • Stand behind the victim and locate the bottom rib with your hand.
  • Move your hand across the abdomen to the area above the navel then make a fist and place your thumb side on the stomach.
  • Place your other hand over your fist and press into the victim's stomach with a quick upward thrust until the food is dislodged.


FLUSH BURNS IMMEDIATELY WITH WATER

There are a many different types of burns. They can be thermal burns, chemical burns, electrical burns or contact burns. Each of the burns can occur in a different way, but treatment for them is very similar.

Flushing burns

For thermal, chemical or contact burns, the first step is to run cold water over the burn for a minimum of 30 minutes. (See Figure 6.) If the burn is small enough, keep it completely under water.  Fo not use ice.

  • Flushing the burn takes priority over calling for help. Flush the burn FIRST.

  • If the victim's clothing is stuck to the burn, don't try to remove it. Remove clothing that is not stuck to the burn by cutting or tearing it.

  • Cover the burn with a clean, cotton material. If you do not have clean, cotton material, do not cover the burn with anything.

Do not scrub the burn and do not apply any soap, ointment, or home remedies. Also, do not offer the burn victim anything to drink or eat, but keep the victim covered with a blanket to maintain a normal body temperature until medical help arrives.

Electrical burn treatment is a little different. Do not touch a victim who has been in contact with electricity unless you are clear of the power source. If the victim is still in contact with the power source, electricity will travel through the victim's body and electrify you when you reach to touch.   Once the victim is clear of the power source, your priority is:

  • Check for any airway obstruction, and to check breathing and circulation. Administer CPR if necessary.
  • Once the victim is stable, begin to run cold water over the burns for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  • Do not move the victim and do not scrub the burns or apply any soap, ointment, or home remedies.
  • After flushing the burn, apply a clean, cotton cloth to the burn. If cotton is not available, don't use anything. Keep the victim warm and still and try to maintain a normal body temperature until medical help arrives.

USE COOL TREATMENT FOR HEAT EXHAUSTION OR STROKE

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are two different things, although they are commonly confused as the same condition.

Heat exhaustion can occur anywhere there is poor air circulation, such as around an open furnace or heavy machinery, or even if the person is poorly adjusted to very warm temperatures. The body reacts by increasing the heart rate and strengthening blood circulation. Simple heat exhaustion can occur due to loss of body fluids and salts. The symptoms are usually excessive fatigue, dizziness and disorientation, normal skin temperature but a damp and clammy feeling.

  • To treat heat exhaustion, move to the victim to a cool spot and encourage drinking of cool water and rest.

Heat stroke is much more serious and occurs when the body's sweat glands have shut down. Some symptoms of heat stroke are mental confusion, collapse, unconsciousness, fever with dry, mottled skin. A heat stroke victim will die quickly, so don't wait for medical help to arrive--assist immediately.

  • The first thing you can do is move the victim to a cool place out of the sun and begin pouring cool water over the victim. Fan the victim to provide good air circulation until medical help arrives.

RESPOND APPROPRIATELY TO THE FORM OF POISONING

The first thing to do is get the victim away from the poison. Then use provide treatment appropriate to the form of the poisoning. (See Figure 8.)

Pills or any other solid form - remove it from the victim's mouth using a clean cloth wrapped around your finger. Don't try this with infants because it could force the poison further down their throat.

Gas - you may need a respirator to protect yourself. After checking the area first for your safety, remove the victim from the area and take to fresh air.

Corrosive to the skin - remove the clothing from the affected area and flush with water for 30 minutes. Take the poison container or label with you when you call for medical help because you will need to be able to answer questions about the poison. Try to stay calm and follow the instructions you are given. If the poison is in contact with the eyes, flush the victim's eyes for a minimum of 15 minutes with clean water.


FIRST AID TO HEART ATTACK

Symptoms includes chest pains, difficulty breathing, nausea, sweating, weak rapid pulse. If you suspect a person has suffered a heart attack, search for an identification card or bracelet for additional steps or doctor's telephone number. Question eye witnesses about what has occurred.  First aid as follows:

CPR
  • Place the victim in a comfortable position
  • Raise the head and chest if breathing is difficult
  • If breathing stops, apply artifical respiration by physician or person trained in CPR

If pulse becomes absent, give CPR if trained and retrieve the facility's AED unit

  • Tip head to open airway.  Look, listen, feel for breathing
  • Restore breathing.  Give mouth-to-mouth artificial respiration
  • Restore circulation.  Check carotid pulse.  If absent, apply external cardiac compression on the victim's breast bone.
    • 15 chest compression at 80-100 per minute, alternate with 2 slow full lung inflations, then repeat 15 compressions.

Use AED (Automated External Defibrillators), only use chest compression when instructed by the AED unit during in-between shock sessions.




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    Last Modified: 7/27/2007
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