Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Jennifer Ellison-Brown: Emergency treatment procedures

Published:Wednesday | March 23, 2016 | 3:23 AM
Karen Chen, lay lecturer at the St John Ambulance Brigade, demonstrates cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) techniques.

WE EXPECT help whenever we are injured while playing a sport. We also expect the helpers to know what they are doing. A qualified first-aider should be present at every match and training session. There are a number of serious injuries and conditions that require prompt action, therefore, we should know what to look for and how to act if someone is seriously injured.

When a sportsperson has stopped breathing, we can restart their respiratory system by forcing air into their lungs. We can do this by giving mouth-to-mouth ventilation (MMV). If their heart has stopped beating, we can try to get it beating again by cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or a cardiac massage. However, we should always try to send for medical assistance.

The following procedures can be applied while waiting for help to arrive.

Mouth-to-mouth ventilation (MMV)

MMV, referred to sometimes as the ‘Kiss of Life’, is an emergency procedure used to restore breathing by inflating the casualty’s lungs with your own breath. This usually helps the casualty to breathe on his own again and may very well save his life.

1. Have the casualty lie on his back and then open the airways by lifting the chin and tilting the head back.

2. Clear the mouth and throat of any obstruction.

3. Pinch the nostrils closed with thumb and index finger to prevent air from escaping.

4. Take a deep breath. Seal your lips firmly around the casualty’s open mouth. Breathe out smoothly and firmly until the chest rises. Take your mouth away watch the chest fall.

5. Take another deep breath and repeat. Repeat with one breath every six seconds for one minute.

If breathing hasn’t returned within one minute, continue MMV, and check for pulse. If there is no pulse, start CPR. If breathing returns, place casualty in the recovery position.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)/ cardiac massage

If you are certain that the person has no pulse, CPR is a way of forcing a stopped heart to beat while waiting for medical help to arrive.

1. Check for a pulse. If the heart has stopped, there will be no pulse, the skin will be pale, lips blue, and arms and legs will be limp.

2. Place the person on his back and use the fingers to find the point where the ribs meet the breastbone. Put your middle finger over this point and your index finger higher up on the breast bone.

3. Put the heel of the other hand on the breast bone just above your index finger. This is the point where pressure should be applied.

4. Place the heel of the other hand on top of this hand and interlock your fingers.

5. Lean over the person with your arms straight. Press down firmly on the breast bone to a depth of about 45cm, then rock backwards to release the pressure. Keep your hands in place. Repeat at a rate of about 100 compressions in a minute.

6. Check pulse regularly. Stop compressions as soon as pulse returns.

MMV and CPR

If the casualty isn’t breathing and has no pulse, the following actions must be taken.

1. Open his airway and give two breaths using MMV.

2. Give 15 chest compressions.

3. Give two breaths.

4. Give 15 chest compressions.

5. Repeat the above until help arrives, while checking breathing and pulse regularly. 

The recovery position

Always use the recovery position for an unconscious person who is breathing. The position is slightly altered if the person has certain injuries. An individual can be rolled into the basic recovery position by doing the following.

1. Tilt the head back. This prevents the tongue from blocking throat and closing off the airways.

2. Keep the neck and back in a straight line.

3. Keep the hip and knee both bent at 90 degrees. This keeps the body safe, stable and comfortable.

4. Use the individual’s hand to support the head, which should be slightly lower than the rest of the body. This allows fluids to drain from the mouth.

5. Check pulse and breathing regularly while waiting for medical help. NB: The Red Cross and other organisations, conduct first aid courses. With a little training we may be able to provide life saving assistance in an emergency.

Next Week: Health and Nutrition