Posted in Wilderness
Friday, 28 March 2014
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Approximately 400 species of sharks have been documented to attack humans. The great white shark has caused the highest number of shark bites than any other species. On the other hand, bull sharks and tiger sharks are also dangerous. Generally, any shark greater than 6 feet in length is considered dangerous. Sharks normally eat fish, other sharks, sea mammals, sea turtles, squid and other invertebrates and sea birds. Shark attacks can be categorized into three types:

  • “Bump-and-bite” attack – the shark bumps into the victim before returning to bite again
  • “Hit-and-run” attack – the most common type of attack where the shark delivers one bite and does not return anymore.
  • “Sneak attack” – the shark simply attacks devoid of notice and followed by more attacks.

The “bump-and-bite” and “sneak” attack are less common but source of the most of the harsh shark bite wounds and deaths.

Symptoms of shark bites

In most cases, many do not even know that a shark is close by prior an attack. In some cases, an individual can sustain only a bump from the shark which is likely to occur when the shark is only investigating what is going on at the surface of the water. Due to the denticles or tooth-like structures on the skin of the shark, it is abrasive resulting to a significant abrasion.

The jaws of sharks are comprised of several rows of sharp, serrated and triangular teeth that are constantly replaced as they shed. The classic shark bites have the crescent-shape. The common wound pattern is a series of parallel cuts caused by the raking movement of the shark on the individual. Always remember that shark bites can cause massive tissue loss. Majority of bites can result to cuts or punctures that are not deep or do not cause nerve or blood vessel injury.

When to seek medical care

It is important to consult a doctor for severe wounds. The doctor will evaluate the wound for significant damage such as injury to the nerves, blood vessels and internal organs.

Treatment for shark bites

shark bites

Direct pressure must be applied to control the bleeding.

For severe shark bites, do not hesitate to call for emergency assistance right away. If there is visible bleeding, the emphasis of first aid is to control the bleeding by applying direct pressure. Always calm and reassure the individual that help is on the way. Do not forget to provide warmth since the individual can be chilled from the water and is likely to suffer from hypothermia.

Always remember that victims of shark bites must be assessed by a health care professional. If only a minor wound is inflicted, you have to wash the wound using soap and water. Cover it with a clean dressing and seek medical care. As for severe or significant injuries, it is best to call for emergency assistance right away.

Posted in Broken Bones
Friday, 28 March 2014
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A tailbone or coccyx is the triangle-shaped bony structure that is located at the base of the vertebral column. It is comprised of 3-5 bony segments that are held in place by the joints and ligaments. A coccyx or tailbone injury can lead to pain and discomfort in the tailbone area. Always remember that these injuries can result to a dislocation, bruise or break. Even though they heal at a slow rate, majority of injuries to the tailbone or coccyx can be managed with conservative treatment options. A tailbone injury is quite common among women since the female pelvis is broader and more exposed.

Causes of tailbone injury

tailbone injury

A direct blow due to sports activities can cause tailbone injury.

Majority of injuries to the tailbone are caused by direct trauma to the coccyx area.

  • Direct blow to the tailbone area especially those that occur during contact sports.
  • Falling on the tailbone in a seated position on a hard surface. This is considered as the most common cause.
  • Injury or fracture during childbirth
  • Repetitive friction or strain against the coccyx can lead to injury
  • Less common causes include compression of nerve roots, bone spurs, local infections, tumors and injuries to other parts of the spine

Symptoms of tailbone injury

  • Severe tenderness and localized pain that is felt in the coccyx area
  • Pain is aggravated when sitting for extended periods or with direct pressure to the tailbone area
  • In traumatic injuries, a bruise is visible in the affected area
  • Painful bowel movements and straining
  • Pain during intercourse in some women

When to seek medical care

If the individual has signs and symptoms of tailbone injury or discomfort that is unexplained in the coccyx area, it is best to contact a doctor. It might be required for the doctor to decide if the injury is traumatic or if the pain is caused by other serious problems.

Injuries to the coccyx region rarely require a visit to the emergency department. Nevertheless, if the individual could not get in touch with his/her doctor or concerned about the symptoms, it is best to go directly to the emergency department at the nearest hospital.

Treatment of tailbone injury

Injuries to the coccyx can be extremely painful but first aid measures at home are aimed at controlling pain while at the same time avoiding further irritation to the coccyx.

  • Avoid sitting down for extended periods. When seated, instruct the individual to sit on hard surfaces and alternate sitting on every side of the buttocks. Additionally, lean forward and direct the weight away from the tailbone.
  • Provide over-the-counter medications for pain to relieve pain.
  • In case of traumatic injuries, apply ice to the tailbone for 15-20 minutes, 4 times in a day for the initial days after the injury.
  • Provide foods that are rich in fiber to soften the stools while at the same time prevent constipation.
  • Use a pillow or doughnut cushion to sit on. These cushions have a hole in the center to prevent the tailbone from getting in touch with the flat surface.
Posted in First Aid
Friday, 28 March 2014
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Vertigo is the feeling that you or the environment is spinning or moving. It is different from dizziness since vertigo basically describes an illusion of movement. Once an individual feels that he/she is moving, it is known as subjective vertigo. If the individual has a perception that the surroundings are moving, it is called objective vertigo.

Causes of vertigo

Always bear in mind that vertigo can be caused by problems in the inner ear or in the brain.

  • The most common form of vertigo is benign paroxysmal position vertigo. It is characterized by the sensation of motion triggered by abrupt head movements or moving the head in a particular direction. This type of vertigo is not serious and can be easily treated.
  • Vertigo can be caused by the inflammation within the interior ear that is characterized by the abrupt onset of vertigo and can be linked with hearing loss.
  • Acoustic neuroma is a type of tumor affecting the nerve tissue in the ear that can lead to vertigo.
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Head trauma and neck injury
  • Migraine
  • Diabetic complications such as arteriosclerosis

Symptoms of vertigo

Vertigo is the sensation of motion either of the surroundings or the individual. It is often perceived as the spinning of the surroundings. This can be confused with symptoms of light-headedness or fainting.

  • Sensation of disorientation or motion that is accompanied by nausea or vomiting, abnormal eye movements and sweating.
  • The duration of the symptoms can range from minutes up to hours and can be episodic or constant. The symptoms can be triggered by movement or change in the position. If there is recent whiplash or head trauma or new medications being taken, inform your doctor.
  • The individual can have hearing loss and ringing sensation in the ears
  • Visual disturbances, difficulty speaking, weakness, difficulty walking and diminished level of consciousness.

When to seek medical care

Any symptoms or signs of vertigo must be checked by a doctor. Most cases of vertigo are considered harmless. Even though the condition can be debilitating, most of the causes can be easily treated with medications. It is important to check for any signs and symptoms to rule out serious or life-threatening causes.

Signs and symptoms of vertigo that need evaluation in the emergency department at the hospital include:


If vertigo is accompanied with headache, it is best to seek medical care.

  • Headache
  • Double vision
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Abnormal eye movements
  • Difficulty walking, weakness of the arms or legs and lack of coordination
  • Altered level of consciousness, difficulty arousing and not acting appropriately

Treatment for vertigo

When it comes to the treatment for vertigo, there are various treatment options including medications, self-care remedies and physical therapy maneuvers.

First aid measures at home can be performed if the individual is already diagnosed with vertigo and under supervision of a doctor.

  • Instruct the individual to drink plenty of fluids.
  • Avoid substances that can affect the circulation including tobacco, caffeine and alcohol.
  • Herbal remedies such as ginger root, coriander and gingko biloba can help minimize the symptoms of vertigo
  • The modified Epley maneuver is often prescribed which involves head and body movements that are performed while sitting on a bed. It is performed in a doctor’s office, but can also be prescribed at home.
  • Vitamin D supplementation can be useful for individuals who are diagnosed with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo.
Posted in Internal Issues
Wednesday, 19 March 2014
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Because of the fact that other chronic diseases such as diabetes and chronic heart disease are more common and popular in Canada, not a lot of people are aware that pneumococcal infections are on the rise in certain cities such as Vancouver. This is why it is important for both residents and non-residents in the area to recognize the importance of taking Vancouver first aid classes for these types of lung infections. Here are some of the reasons why it is important to take Vancouver classes for pneumococcal infections.

It is the leading cause of respiratory problems

Chest Discomfort or Pain

Chest Discomfort or Pain

According to the data that was released by the Vancouver Coastal Health for December 2013, Pneumococcal infections are in the lead for causing the most number of lung infections through direct contact. The number of people who contracted pneumococcal infections is even higher than the number of people who contracted Tuberculosis through direct contact which is one of the most common lung diseases not just in British Columbia, but in other Canadian provinces and territories as well.  Pneumococcal disease also has the highest monthly rate for lung diseases that are acquired through direct contact. This means that the rise in the cases of Pneumococcal infections happen throughout the year and not just in December.

It encompasses a wide range of diseases

One of the main reasons why Pneumococcal infections are so common is because it encompasses a wide variety of diseases from acute conditions such as acute ear infections to more serious medical problems such as meningitis. Other forms of sinus infections and Pneumonia are also categorized as Pneumococcal infections as they are all caused by the same strain of bacteria known as Streptococcus bacteria. Other people are also at a higher risk for developing these types of infections such as the elderly and those who have autoimmune diseases since their immune system are much weaker than a healthy person.

How does Vancouver first aid classes help?

By taking Vancouver first aid classes, rescuers can learn how to identify life -threatening complications and apply the necessary medical interventions to prevent mortality. These medical conditions include shock and problems in the bloodstream or circulation. Taking first aid classes also teaches ordinary bystanders to immediately call emergency services if they observe these types of life-threatening medical conditions on a complete stranger. This helps minimize the number of mortality that is caused by Pneumococcal infections since the patients are immediately given the medical treatment that they need in order to survive.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014
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The bodily injuries on the upper extremity are considered the most painful and debilitating. If a shoulder injury is incurred after a fall, pain often radiates not only within the shoulder but also to the neck and down to the hands and fingers. If an individual sustained a shoulder injury after a fall, it is important to provide the appropriate first aid measures to prevent further injury.

Always bear in mind that the shoulder joint is comprised of three bones – scapula, clavicle and humerus. As one of the most movable joints in the body, it is the site for many injuries such as sprains, strains, dislocations, fractures and torn rotator cuffs. During falls, shoulders are prone to fractures and dislocations. The extent of the damage depends on how the individual fell and other contributing factors such as the surface.

What you need to know about shoulder injuries

Shoulder injuries that result to pain in the neck as well as the arms, hands and fingers are due to the impingement of the nerves after a fall. Due to this, it is important to provide first aid within 24 hours after the injury was sustained to prevent nerve complications that can affect the entire upper body. Even though these first aid measures could not completely deal with other conditions such as rotator cuff tendinitis, it can be used on simple injuries that resulted to nerve impingement.

Application of ice

shoulder injuries

Cold packs or ice is applied on the affected shoulder to minimize pain and swelling.

Right after the injury to the shoulder is sustained from a fall, it is vital to apply ice to the affected shoulder in order to minimize the swelling as well as prevent the rush of blood flow to the extremity. By diminishing the swelling in the nerves, the synovial fluid in the shoulder joint is kept at a normal balance and to help decrease the stiffness in the shoulder. If ice is not applied, the swelling will lead to a stiff shoulder. Take note that the stiffness can put pressure on the nerves and results to pain that radiates to the neck and down to the arms.

Anti-inflammatory medications

Aside from the cold packs that are applied right after the injury, you can also provide anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen to minimize the swelling. Take note that these medications will not only diminish the swelling, but can also control the pain and allow the individual to move the arm as well as preventing stiffness from developing.

Always bear in mind that any shoulder injuries from a fall must be properly evaluated by a doctor to ensure that there is no ligament or bone that is damaged. If there are damaged tissues and bone, it would surely require advanced medical care. In most cases, individuals typically recover from a shoulder injury as long as the simple first aid measures are delivered right away after the incident.


Posted in First Aid
Tuesday, 18 March 2014
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Individuals who have diabetes must emphasize the importance of proper wound care since even minor wounds can become severe which is often due to a weakened immune system linked with the condition.  Take note that diabetes can lead to a compromised sensation of pain and inability to fight off infection, treating diabetic wounds would require special care and monitoring to ensure proper healing.

Majority of diabetics suffer from neuropathy in which they have nerve damage that keeps them from feeling scrapes, cuts or blisters until they become infected. These diabetic wounds can become infected due to the compromised immune system. In addition, individuals who have diabetes have constricted arteries in the legs, making the flow of blood difficult. If there is no adequate blood flow to an injury, it cannot heal properly. Even a simple wound can become badly infected and will not heal normally.

Increased risk for diabetic ulcer

A skin ulcer is basically an area in the skin that has broken down in which the underlying tissues can be seen. Majority of skin ulcers occur on the feet or lower legs. The skin typically heals quickly if it is cut. Nevertheless, in some individuals with diabetes, the skin on the feet does not heal properly if there are wounds and they are prone to developing an ulcer. Even though foot ulcers due to wounds on the feet can be treated, they can become worse and take a long a time to heal among those who have diabetes. In severe cases, it can even lead to gangrene.

How to deal with diabetic wounds

When it comes to diabetic wounds, they must be treated as a major injury with appropriate first aid measures even if it is a small scrape or cut. The wound must be thoroughly cleaned right away and checked for swelling and pus that are indications of an infection. For severe cases of diabetes, wounds must be examined by a doctor to ensure that proper care is given.

diabetic wounds

Diabetic wounds must be covered to promote proper healing.

Wounds must be treated with antibiotic ointments and closely monitored to ensure that they heal. For small wounds, they must be covered with a clean bandage that is changed regularly to promote proper healing. As for major wounds, it must be handled by the healthcare professionals since it can be life-threatening for diabetics.

It is important to keep pressure off the wound as it starts to heal. Always make sure that the skin surrounding the wound is clean all the time while the bandages are changed on a daily basis. Do not forget to check if there are blisters and calluses that cannot be felt on the feet and provide the appropriate measures for wounds if there are any. In case of infection or wounds that do not heal, it is best to consult your doctor.

Posted in First Aid
Tuesday, 18 March 2014
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During emergency situations and disasters, it is important to have a supply of medications, first aid supplies and back-up power for medical equipment if used. It is important to consult your doctor and insurance company regarding the process of acquiring extra medications and supplies in case of emergencies. It is also important to create several copies of your prescriptions in case you require refills after an emergency or disaster.

Always check your first aid kit

Your first aid kit for emergencies and disasters must be checked regularly to ensure that the supplies are enough. It is best to create an inventory of your supplies that you have on hand and add more if needed. Do not forget that you should also include supplies for daily use.

During emergencies or disasters, it is comforting to know that you have planned ahead of time and have all the items that you need. When stocking up on your first aid kit, makes sure that all the essentials are present since it will surely come in handy when you need it the most.


When supplying your first aid kit, there are several medications that you have to include. Initially, you have to review your medications needs as well as those required by other family members. You can use a separate container for the medications to keep them organized. Make sure that these medications are kept dry, cool and away from direct exposure to light. It is best to rotate the medications in your kit with your medication refills to ensure that the medications will not go past beyond their expiration date.

Medications to include in your first aid kit:

  • High blood pressure medications
  • Heart medications
  • Insulin
  • Contact lenses and supplies
  • Denture supplies
  • Other special needs and prescription medications

First aid supplies

These commonly used items must be included in your first aid kit. Depending on your needs, you can add other items as well. Make sure that these items are stored in a portable, accessible and waterproof container or bag. It is best to include a first aid manual but it is even better if you have enrolled in a first aid course to ensure that you are familiar with all the basics.

first aid

A blanket is a must-have supply for a first aid kit in case of emergencies and disasters.

  • Alcohol wipe or disinfectant wipes
  • Bandages in different sizes and shapes
  • Gauze pads in assorted sizes
  • Latex gloves
  • Roller bandages
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Blanket
  • Safety pins
  • Tweezers
  • Thermometer
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Over-the-counter medications for pain relief

Always remember that your first aid kit must be personalized based on the needs of your family. It is important to take into consider the personal needs of every individual and the commonly used non-prescription medications. When storing these items, it is best to use a waterproof container and store in a dry and cool place. All family members must be informed regarding the location of the kit. Do not forget to put a date on the kit and check the available supplies on a regular basis and replace when needed.

Posted in First Aid
Tuesday, 18 March 2014
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The Heimlich maneuver is a first aid technique that is performed to save a life of a choking individual. Aside from this maneuver, another first aid technique that can be performed during a choking emergency is the finger probe maneuver.

Always bear in mind that choking can occur once an individual tries to swallow food that is too large to pass through the esophagus or when accidentally drawing food into the air passages that leads to the lungs. If any of these instances occur, it will lead to choking and the individual will have difficulty breathing and could not speak. The head of the individual is thrown back while the face becomes bluish-red in color with the eyes protruding.

finger probe

The finger sweep is performed to remove the obstruction.

What to do in a choking emergency

In a choking emergency, it is vital to determine if the victim is passing any air in and out of his/her lungs. If the air passages are obstructed partially, some air movement continues through the narrowed windpipe and there is time to call for emergency assistance before the individual will collapse. In case the air passages are completely closed, the individual will soon collapse and die within minutes due to lack of air unless an emergency action is taken. This is where the finger probe maneuver will come in handy.

What is the finger probe maneuver?

The finger probe maneuver is the ideal first aid maneuver in a choking situation in which a lump of food or firm object is lodged in the throat. With this first aid technique, your initial move is to open the mouth widely and then grasp the tip of his/her tongue through the fold of a handkerchief and then pull the tongue forward.

The next step is to pass the forefinger of your other hand over the tongue of the individual and along the side of the throat far enough to reach the edge of the food or object causing the obstruction. Make sure that you will take care not to push the forefinger into the midline of the individual’s throat since it will push the obstructing object deeper into the air passages.

The sweeping motion of the finger will bring the obstructing food or object forward into the mouth. This is the last step in a successful finger probe maneuver. Even if the individual is breathing normally again, it is best to take him/her to a doctor to determine whether the obstructing object or food has been taken out completely. It is vital for the doctor to figure out if there are any damages to the tissues when the finger probe maneuver was performed in order to restore his/her normal breathing.

As part of a first aid and CPR course, this technique is also taught along with the Heimlich maneuver that is very useful on choking individuals.

Posted in First Aid
Tuesday, 18 March 2014
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For those who are going away to college, it involves a lot of packing. When packing, there is one important thing that you should also bring along – a first aid kit. Always remember that a first aid kit will surely come in handy especially if you are away from home and face minor cuts or health problems.

Initially, you should look for a container that will serve as your first aid kit. You can look for a plastic box that can accommodate all the essentials. Make sure that the container can be easily stored and you might want to use a container that is not see-through if you do not want to contents to be easily seen.

Over-the-counter medications

  • Aspirin is the ideal remedy for headaches, toothaches, backaches and fever as well as hangovers. Even though parents do not want to admit that their children drink at school, aspirin will surely come in handy when it comes to hangovers.
  • Ibuprofen is a pain reliever that is quite similar to aspirin. It is commonly used for sports-related injuries such as a sprained ankle. This medication can also be used for menstrual cramps.
  • Naproxen is also used for menstrual cramps and similar to ibuprofen but can deliver a stronger effect.
  • Eye drops are useful for dry eyes during the winter months. The eyes can also get irritated since some students smoke. With the help of eye drops, it can add lubrication to dry eyes.
  • Migraine relief medications are very useful for college students. Due to the pressure and stressful environment in college, it will surely trigger migraines.
  • Stomach relief medications will surely come in handy during emergencies such as constipation or indigestion.
  • Medications for sinus and allergies can greatly help out for individuals who have certain allergies. Living in the dormitories will put you at risk for acquiring cold, thus it is important to have these medications on hand.
  • Sore throat is useful in case the throat hurts especially lozenges for a soothing effect.

First aid products for your kit

first aid kit

Gauze in different sizes must be available in a first aid kit.

  • Antiseptic is used for cleaning wounds. For minor cuts or wounds, you can initially apply rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. Finish off by applying an antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin.
  • Band aids are readily available in all sizes. These are must-have items in your first aid kit and make sure you have a lot on hand.
  • Bug bite medications are useful especially for mosquito bites and others.
  • Medication for athlete’s foot

Even though you might not use all of these items in your first aid kit, it is better that you are prepared since you never know when you will get wounds or allergies. Understandably, you do not want to worry about buying medications when you need it the most. With your first aid kit on hand, you have everything that you need.

Posted in St Mark James
Wednesday, 05 March 2014
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Onchomycosis is a chronic fungal infection of the fingernails and toenails causing the nails to thicken, discolor, disfigure, and split. It commonly occurs after oncholysis and accounts for half of all nail disorders, affecting up to three percent of the population. Generally, most cases of onchomycosis are caused by dermatophytes, common fungi that causes skin, hair and nail infection. Although it affects both fingernails and toenails, it more commonly occurs in the toenails. In general, it may be difficult to treat, albeit curable, and reinfection is not uncommon. If left untreated, toenails can become very thick causing pressure and pain inside the shoes. Fingernail infections may lead to psychological and social troubles.

Subtypes of Onchomycosis

There are five subtypes of onchomycosis, which can occur individually but may also occur in combination. The following are the subtypes of onchomycosis:

  • Distal lateral subungual onchomycosis (DLSO or DSO) – occurs underneath the nail
  • White superficial onchomycosis (WSO) – occurs in the surface of the nail plate
  • Proximal subungual onchomycosis (PSO) – fungus invades the cuticle
  • Endonyx onchomycosis (EO) – fungus invades the nail plate
  • Candida onchomycosis – separation of nail from the nail bed

Causes of Onchomycosis

There are three main causes of onchomycosis, all of which produce a similar signs and symptoms, thus making it difficult to diagnose the primary cause.

  • Dermatophytes (90% of all cases) – Epidermophyton, Microsporum, Trichophyton species
  • Yeasts (8% of all cases) – Candida albicans
  • Nondermatophyte mols (2% of all cases)

Signs and Symptoms of Onchomycosis

Upon infection, signs and symptoms may not manifest instantaneously. Initial sign of onchomycosis is the thickening of the nail. The other signs and symptoms of onchomycosis include:

  • Nail discoloration, disfiguration and splitting
  • Pain, discomfort, irritation, and pressure, especially in toenails (severe cases)
  • May interfere with standing, walking, and exercising
  • Paresthesia
  • Self-esteem issues 
Onchomycosis may also cause self-esteem issus in an individual

Onchomycosis may also cause self-esteem issus in an individual

First Aid Management of Onchomycosis

Treatment for onchomycosis was difficult as medications were not effective. However, modern advances have given better option treatments to people inflicted with onchomycosis. Although treatments have significantly improved, it is expensive and the rate of recurrence remains high. In case of any signs and symptoms of infection in the nails, seek medical attention, as it is easier to treat at its earlier stages. Treatment for onchomycosis include the following:

Topical Antifungal Medications

  • Applied to the nail and skin to eliminate the fungi-causing disorder and other pathogens
  • Used only if half the nail is involved or patient cannot take oral medications
  • Amorolfine, sodium pyrithione, bifonazole/ urea, etc.

Oral Medications

  • Generally more effective as it can penetrate the nail plate
  • Terbinafine, itraconazole


  • Removal of the nail through surgery or use of chemicals

Laser Treatment

  •  Capable of penetrating nail tissue and disrupting fungal to kill them through laser therapy

Although onchomycosis is not generally considered a medical emergency, it is necessary to find early treatment for easier prognosis. To learn more about how to recognize signs and symptoms of infections such as onchomycosis, enroll in First Aid Courses.

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