9-1-1 is always a phone call away, and they’ll be over in a breeze in case something bad happens; but what if an injured person needs immediate help for something getting substantially worse by the second? Here, we’ve got three common emergencies and what you can do until the paramedics arrive. (Step #1: Stay calm!)
1.) Excessive Bleeding
If a cut is superficial—meaning it’s only penetrated that first layer of skin—washing it with warm water and soap, patting it dry, and applying a bandage should do the trick. What if it’s worse than that, however?
If you see someone bleeding excessively from a wound, there are certain steps you should take. For starters, if the object that caused the wound is still stuck in the person’s body, leave it! As The New York Times notes, removing it can make bleeding worse. Apply bandages or cloth (or your hand, if nothing else) on the wound with pressure—around the object still stuck, if necessary.
If possible, lay the person down to prevent fainting and elevate their feet. Medical professionals recommend simply adding more bandages if the current ones get soaked through, as opposed to removing those and replacing them with fresh ones. It might be tempting to lift the bandages and check on the bleeding, but leave them be!
Contrary to popular belief, if someone is coughing, they’re not actually choking. Choking means that due to a foreign object being lodged in someone’s throat, they’re unable to breathe. If you see this happen to someone around you, the Mayo Clinic has some good advice for what you should do:
Just remember the number five: First, give five back blows with the heel of your hand in between the person’s shoulder blades. Then, give five abdominal thrusts, also referred to as the Heimlich maneuver. Keep alternating between these two until the person isn’t choking anymore or paramedics show up. CPR should only be used if the person has lost consciousness!
The Epilepsy Foundation reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that 2.2 million Americans are dealing with epilepsy, so knowing how to handle a seizure might come in handy. Seizures can strike at any moment, and they can be terrifying to the people standing by helpless. Remember that all sorts of things can happen with seizures, aside from involuntary muscle spasms—confusion, fainting, and drooling, for example.
There isn’t anything you can do to actually stop the seizure, but there are still things to look out for. First, prevent the person from injuring themselves while they’re having the seizure. Second, look out for several things: Does the seizure last more than a few minutes? Is the person unconscious afterward? Do they immediately have another one? These are things that could be a sign of something a little more serious, so make sure to report them should they occur.
Taking care of a person’s mind is just as important as caring for their body in the event of an emergency, so always remember to speak in calm, soothing voice, and try not to panic! With these basic tips, you can appropriately handle the situation until paramedics arrive.
Sarah Ross writes for several educational sites which offer advice on the nurse practitioner programs nursingdegree.org.