Wilderness emergencies have increased in incidence throughout the past years as the popularity of outdoor and wilderness activities have risen. Emergency situations occurring from the wilderness setting can vary from minors cuts to life-threatening asphyxia. Whereas treatment will greatly vary for the different types of emergencies, one must be prepared to handle any kind of emergency that may arise in a wilderness setting, wherein emergency doctors, hospitals and emergency help may be given immediately. Thus, one should have enough knowledge and skills before engaging in wilderness activities.
List of Possible Wilderness Medical Emergencies
The following is the list of possible medical emergencies that may occur in a wilderness setting. It is highly recommended that individuals who plan to go on a trip into the wilderness know how to apply first aid and initiate CPR in case any of the wilderness medical emergencies may arise:
Injury and illness
- Severe burns
- Poisoning: food, venomous, or botanicals (from mushrooms or wild greens)
- Animal bites or stings
- Ballistic trauma (e.g. gunshot wounds)
- Flail chest
- Spinal or brain injury, from falls, etc.
Infections specific to wilderness
- Rabies infection
- Malaria infection
- Salmonella poisoning
- Lyme disease
- Necrotizing Fasciitis
- Altitude Sickness
- Pulmonary Oedema
- Smoke Inhalation
- Respiratory Arrest
- Hypovolemic shock
- Septic shock
Neurological and Neurosurgical
- Subdural haematoma
First Aid Kit for Wilderness Emergencies
It is necessary to have a first aid kit for all possible wilderness emergencies that may arise. The quantity of the items listed below will depend on length of trip, level of training and destination. The following items are generally recommended in first aid kits in the wilderness setting.
- Nitrile gloves
- Wound care and wound cleaning
- Blister care
- One-inch athletic tape
- Gauze/ dressings
- Roller gauze/ vet wrap
- Adhesive bandages
- Waterproof/ breathable wound dressings
- CPR mask and airway management
- Small magnifier
- Trauma sheers
- Compression wraps
- Aluminum foam splint
- Triangular bandages
- Medications: pain managements, gastrointestinal medications, antihistamines, topical antibiotic cream and anti-inflammatory medications
- Personal medications, such as asthma inhalers, epinephrine injections, etc.
First Aid Management for Wilderness Emergencies
First aid management is necessary in all cases of wilderness emergencies. CPR for wilderness emergencies is almost as similar as CPR in regular settings. The main difference is that after 30 minutes of initiating continuous CPR without signs of circulation, it is recommended to stop CPR. The following steps are recommended in cases of wilderness emergencies
- Call for emergency medical services.
- If protective gear is available, make use of them.
- If there is bleeding, it is necessary to control bleeding. Apply deep, direct pressure using an absorbent cloth or dressing. Keep the pressure in place and apply dressings over the old ones.
- Check for the victim’s circulation, airway, breathing, disability/ deformity and exposure.
- Check for the victim’s pulse by the groove on the neck. If no pulse is detected, initiate CPR. Give 30 chest compressions and 2 rescue breathings.
- If the victim is unconscious, ensure that there is no obstruction in the airway. Turn the victim’s head to the side.
- To check for breathing, position own cheek a few inches from the victim’s nose and mouth. Feel for air and watch for rise and fall of chest. Begin rescue breathing if necessary.
- If the victim is unconscious but breathing and with pulse, place the victim in recovery position.
- Cover the victim with a blanket or coat to avoid heat loss, unless it is caused by hyperthermia.
There are many possible injuries and emergencies that can arise in cases of wilderness setting. Enrol in First Aid Courses and CPR Training to learn how to manage possible wilderness emergencies
Blood agents such as hydrogen cyanide and cyanogen chloride have a direct effect on cellular metabolism resulting in asphyxiation through alterations in hemoglobin. Cyanide is an agent that has profound systemic effects to the human body. It is commonly used in the mining of gold and silver and in the plastics of dye industries. In 1984, the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal India, inadvertently released large amounts of cyanide which resulted in one of the largest industrial disasters resulting in hundreds of deaths and injured.
Blood agents such as cyanide, when accidentally released in large quantities or when used as a chemical weapon, is universally identified as having an aromatic smell of bitter almond. In house fires, cyanide is released during the combustion of plastics, rugs, silk, furniture and similarly related construction materials. There is a significant correlation between blood cyanide and carbon monoxide levels in patients after inhaling so much fumes in a fire related disaster, and in many cases the cause of death is due to cyanide poisoning superseding carbon monoxide poisoning.
Exposure to Blood Agents
Blood agents often work its way through ingestion and inhalation. When used as a chemical weapon, blood agents are usually disseminated as aerosols which take effect through inhalation which often prove to be one of the most deadliest ways to inflict damage to the human body. Because of their volatility, they are very lethal when released in confined areas than in open areas. Cyanide compounds, in particular occur in minute amounts in the natural environment and in cigarette smoke. They are also commonly used in industrial processes as well as a common ingredient in the manufacture of pesticides.
Clinical Manifestations of Blood agents
Blood agents such as cyanide when ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin and mucous membranes result in serious clinical symptoms which can lead to permanent disability which often prove to be fatal when not properly managed. Cyanide in particular is one of the most potent and toxic blood agents which. Cyanide is protein-bound and once in is freely inside the systemic circulation it basically impedes and inhibits aerobic metabolism leading to respiratory arrest due to diaphragmatic muscle failure, cardiac arrest and death. Inhalation of blood agents such as cyanide often results in tachypnea, flushing, tachycardia, non-specific neurologic symptoms, stupor, coma and seizure preceding respiratory arrest.
Treatment for Blood Agents
Rapid administration of amyl nitrate, sodium nitrite and sodium thiosulfate is essential to the successful management cyanide exposure and similar blood agents. Victims exposed to cyanide must be intubated and placed on a ventilator. Amyl nitrate pearls need to be crushed and placed in the ventilator reservoir to assist in inducing methemoglobinemia (increase in hemoglobin production). It is important to note that cyanide as a blood agent has 20-25% higher affinity in binding with hemoglobin hence rapid and successive induction of the above mentioned medication is essential to help maintain good oxygenation of all vital organs in the body. Although this effort may be life-saving, the above mentioned emergency medications have side effects: Sodium nitrite for example can lead to severe hypotension and thiocyanate can induce vomiting and psychosis. Due care must be observed at all times when administering emergency medications for blood agents since an overdose of these medications can severely damage the liver and kidneys.
A lung abscess is a localized necrotic lesion of the lung parenchyma containing purulent material that collapses to form a hollow cavity. It is generally caused by aspirating anaerobic microorganisms that are bacterial in nature. In lung abscess, diagnosis can fully confirm by a chest x-ray which would generally reveal a cavity of at least 2 cm deep.
Patients with a diagnosed lung abscess are known to have impaired cough reflexes who cannot close their glottis. Moreover, individuals who have difficulties in swallowing are at an even higher risk for aspiration of foreign material and development of lung abscess. Other high risk individuals include those with central nervous system disorders such as those suffering from stroke and seizures, drug addiction, severe alcoholism, esophageal disease or compromised immune function; patients without teeth and those under nasogastric intubation feeding as well as patients with an altered state of consciousness due to the effects of anesthetic agents.
Pathophsiology of lung abscess
A lung abscess is primarily a complication of bacterial pneumonia caused by the aspiration of exudates into the lung. Abscesses may also occur secondary to functional or mechanical obstruction of the bronchi which can either be a foreign object, tumor growth, necrotizing pneumonia, bronchial stenosis (narrowing of the bronchioles), pulmonary embolism, pulmonary tuberculosis and chest trauma. Most lung abscesses are found in areas of the lungs that may be affected by aspiration.
The site of the lung abscess is primarily related to gravity and is determined by position. For patients who are confined to bed, the posterior segment of the upper lobe and the lower lobe are the most common areas of abscess formation. Initially, the cavity of the lung may or may not extend into the bronchus which eventually can lead to the abscess surrounding the walls of fibrous walls of the parenchyma which the necrotic process can extend until it reaches the lumen of the bronchioles and the pleural space.
Clinical manifestations of lung abscess
The clinical manifestations of a lung abscess may vary from a mild productive cough to acute illness. Most patients experience fever and productive cough with moderate to copious amounts of foul smelling and sometimes bloody sputum and secretions. The fever and cough may develop for several days to weeks before diagnosis can be fully confirmed. Leukocytosis may also be present which is indicative that there is an active inflammatory response. Pleurisy or dull chest pain upon inhalation and exhalation may be evident along with weakness, anorexia and weight loss are also commonly seen in individuals with this condition.
Medical management of lung abscess
The findings of the history, physical examination, chest x-ray and sputum
culture generally will indicate the type of organism that causes the infection as well as the appropriate treatment required. Adequate drainage of the lung abscess may be achieved by chest physiotherapy, postural drainage as well as frequent deep breathing and coughing exercises to promote sputum expectoration and volume capacity for better gas exchange. A diet high in protein and calories is essential during the course of treatment to increase immunity and since chronic infection is associated with a catabolic state necessitating increase intake of caloric protein to facilitate healing and hasten recover time from infection brought about by lung abscess.
Electric shock injuries can happen at home, at the workplace, or at school, and it can happen to anyone. Knowing first aid for electric shock injuries can greatly help in the quick and effective management of such emergencies.
The human body is mainly water, thus, it has ability to conduct electricity. If any part of the body receives an electric shock, the electricity can travel through body tissues with little obstruction. Passage of electric current through the body can lead to injuries such as burns to the skin and internal tissues, as well as fatal heart rhythm disturbances (heart failure). First aid for electric shock injuries may involve care for burns, CPR and rescue breathing.
Possible causes of electric shock include:
- Faulty electrical wiring/appliances
- Downed powerlines
- Electrical appliances in contact with liquids
- Improper installation and/or use of appliances
- Lightning strike
Helping victims of electric shock
Before providing first aid for electric shock injuries, be sure to disconnect the power supply. Check if there is a main switch for the entire building and turn it off. A safety switch reduces the risk of electricity-related injuries at home.
DO NOT attempt to help until you are certain that the power supply has been cut off. Be extra careful when working around downed power lines or in wet areas. Remember electricity can travel through water.
First Aid for Electrical Shock
- Check responsiveness and breathing. If breathing is absent, initiate CPR.
- Call 911 for emergency help. If you are unsure about what to do, ask the emergency operator and he will give you instructions. Be ready to follow the instructions as it is vital in increasing the person’s chances of survival.
- If the victim is responsive and with spontaneous breathing, look for other injuries and provide first aid. Cool the burns under running water for 20 minutes. Cover burned areas with dressing that won’t stick into the skin, if available. A good alternative to dressing is a simple cling wrap, commonly found in kitchens. DO NOT apply oils or ointments onto burnt skin.
- Provide reassurance and stay with the victim.
Preventing electric shock injuries at home
Take these few precautions to help reduce the risk of electric shock at home:
- Always consult a licensed electrician for all electricity-related installations.
- Never use appliances or extensions wires if the cord appears frayed or damaged.
- When unplugging appliances, DO NOT pull on the cord, instead pull the plug.
- Avoid putting electrical appliance near wet areas.
- Invest on safety switches and portable power boards with built-in safety switches.
- Use safety plugs on power points that are not in use to prevent childrenfrom inserting objects into them.
While learning first aid for electric shock is recommended, you would not want any of your loved ones to suffer such injuries. Take safety precautions today and avoid unwanted injuries.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR is a life-saving procedure that attempts to provide adequate circulation and oxygenation in individuals whose heart has suddenly stopped beating (cardiac arrest) or who has stopped spontaneous breathing (respiratory arrest).
CPR is done to maintain and/or restore circulation and breathing and to ensure adequate oxygenation and blood flow to vital organs, such as the heart, brain and lungs. It is a critical procedure during the first few minutes after a respiratory or cardiac arrest. And because of its importance, this skill is included in almost all first aid training courses.
Like other first aid procedures, CPR can be performed by trained laypeople on adults, adolescents, children, and infants. This lifesaving procedure should be performed if an individual suddenly become unconscious, stops breathing and has no pulse. There are many factors that can cause cardiac and respiratory arrest that include severe allergic reactions, choking, airway obstruction, ineffective heartbeat, drug reactions, drowning, exposure to extreme cold, trauma, or severe shock.
CPR is an important step in the emergency cardiac care system designed to save lives. Prompt recognition of CPR-situations and activation of the emergency medical system, and early CPR can help prevent many deaths. Immediate defibrillation and advanced cardiac life support measures further increases the chances of the person.
The CPR performed by trained laypeople is intended to maintain and support blood circulation and breathing while waiting for advanced medical care by healthcare personnel. Meanwhile, when CPR is performed by healthcare professionals, it is used alongside basic and advanced life support measures.
Ideally, CPR should be performed within four to six minutes after the person has stopped breathing to avoid brain damage or death. CPR is a composite of procedures – rescue breathing and external chest compression. The former delivers oxygen to the lungs and the latter to help circulate oxygenated blood to the body’s vital organs – the brain and heart. CPR should be performed after assessing the victim and calling 911 for help.
Although the principles and procedures are the same, CPR technique may differ for adults, children and infants. For the purposes of CPR, adults, children and infants are distinguished as follows:
- Adults – children older than eight years
- Children – children 1-8 years old
- Infants – newborns to 1 years old
The CPR technique used for infants and young children is modified owing to their body size. Moreover, children and infants have anatomically smaller airways and have faster heart rates. On the other hand, children over eight years old have reached a body size that can be handled with adult CPR technique. In order to learn the differences between these techniques, it is best to take both the basic and pediatric first aid training courses. The Red Cross and its training partners offer training programs year-round. Contact your local Red Cross chapter today. Learn CPR and save lives!
The road isn’t that friendly for everyday pedal-pushers. Despite the many road safety precautions, bicycle accidents can still happen. Read these bicycle safety tips to help you stay safe while riding your bicycle on the road.
Bicycles are not just a wonderful pastime: they are healthy, environment-friendly, and a cheap mode of transportation. However, the combination of disastrous road design, overcrowded lanes and careless motorist behavior has turned bicycle-riding into a high-stakes lottery.
Every year, thousands of people are injured due to bicycle accidents – and sadly, the dismal trend is set to continue. While waiting for more long-term and concrete solutions, bicycle riders and enthusiasts must rely on their own wits to keep safe. Here are a few bicycle safety tips to ensure your life on the road.
1.Plan your ride
Before you head out, carefully plan your route. As much as possible, use smaller, less busy roads and won’t involve sharing roads with larger vehicles such as buses or trucks. Even if it means taking extra turns and mileage, you’ll be a lot safer. Make use of online maps or planners.
2.Beware of larger vehicles
Another simple bicycle safety tip is keeping a safe distance with big vehicles on the road. Keep another, smaller vehicle between you and the bigger vehicle and never undertake. Beware of truck blind spots. Remember that buses and trucks have massive blind spots. If you are not in hurry, just give way and let them go first.
3.Wear a helmet while riding your bicycle
Wearing a helmet can considerably reduce the chances of head and neck injuries arising from bicycle accidents. Be sure to use appropriate helmet size and design.
Use reflective clothing during the day or warning lights at night. Establish eye contact with drivers, especially when you are crossing the road. It helps break down ‘windshield barrier.’
5.Free your ears of any distraction
On busy roads, bicycle riders need clear hearing as much as keen eyesight. Especially with oncoming traffic from behind, you’ll likely hear the danger first before you get to see it. Wearing earphones or headsets while on your bicycle is unwise. This bicycle safety tip can save you from potential collisions.
6.Be on the guard even on cycle lanes
Although many cities now have dedicated cycle lanes, don’t be too complacent. Majority of cycle lanes have cars parked on them. Be on the guard for oncoming traffic or pedestrian, especially in crossings.
7.Take first aid training courses
This is a very important bicycle safety tip. Taking a first aid training course is not only for your personal benefit but also for other cyclists. If someone gets injured, a cyclist would often be the first one on the scene.
Most basic of all principles of first aid, the rescuer must remain calm. If you get anxious or panic, you can end up losing control of the victim and the entire situation. As a trained first aider, you should be able to lead crowd and save as much lives as possible. Establish authority by speaking and acting calmly. If the victim is conscious, allow him to discuss the situation and to vent out his fears. It is important to talk with the victim frequently, honestly and in a reassuring manner. Do not be judgmental and avoid being argumentative. It’s not the time for blame game. Set your priorities.
- Keep yourself and bystanders safe. Approach the victim safely but do not allow the sense of urgency to transform a sensible rescue effort into a reckless, or even foolhardy, attempt. If you assess immediate danger, such as explosion or fire, instruct bystanders to cover up and stay in a safe place immediately. If there is no clear danger and moving the victim can only cause further harm, do not attempt moving him.
- Call for help immediately or ask someone to call for help. Make sure to note important information such as your location, number of injured persons, nature of injuries, condition of the victim, specific environmental conditions, and what procedures have been done to treat the victims. This basic principles of first aid ensures that more advanced medical care reaches the victim at soonest time possible.
- It’s better to assume the worst. Assume that the victim you are caring for has a neck injury or a heart attack, unless proven otherwise. However, provide accurate information to the rescue service.
- Do NOT move a victim with serious injuries unless there is clear danger from the environment or some medical reasons require moving the victim. Make sure that you assess the victim thoroughly for potentially serious problems.
- Do NOT perform procedures or administer medications you are not certain about. Do not further harm is a basic first aid principle that should be followed. If you are unsure about how to provide CPR or are unsure about certain medications, do not proceed. Instead of the taking risks performing questionable first aid procedures, wait for a trained first aider or the emergency services to arrive, or ask instructions from the emergency call operator.
- Listen to the victim carefully and do not leave him. Listening to the story can give you vital information that can later help the emergency medical staff in making quick and accurate medical decisions. Moreover, staying with the victim is a basic first aid principle that should guide first aiders and responders.
These key pointers should guide you while providing first aid treatment to victims of accidents and injuries.
Now more than ever, taking a first aid training course has been made much easier. Thanks to the many accredited training providers that offer training courses year round. If you haven’t completed a first aid training program, be sure to read this post.
Why take first aid training course? It’s just a waste of time and money.
Sadly, there are still countless people who have this silly idea in mind. It’s not surprising why many accidents turn into tragic losses or long-term disabilities. If you are among those people who do not regard first aid skills as important, here are just six of the many reasons why you should all the more enroll in a first aid training course.
1.Accidents could happen anywhere, anytime
It may sound cliché, but no one knows the future. At some point in your life, you will witness an accident or emergency. If you do not know first aid, be sure to pray that it’s not your loved one who ends up the victim.
2.Emergencies most commonly occur at home
Every year, EMTs and paramedics respond to thousands of home emergencies. Heart diseases, such as heart attacks and angina, are among the most common domestic emergencies and these medical emergencies can result in lasting disabilities or even death if not treated early. By taking a first aid training course, you will be able to provide life-saving first aid to your loved ones.
Interventions taken during the first few minutes after an accident are vital. In fact, first aid could mean life and death. This is especially true among cardiac arrest victims. Statistically, individuals who have had cardiac arrest but received immediate CPR have higher chances at survival than those who do not. First aid training course prepares you to handle such emergencies.
With the enactment of workplace safety laws, people who have completed first aid training have better employability. Under these new laws, workplaces are required to have trained first aiders. If you have a first aid training certificate, you have an edge over other applicants.
As mentioned earlier, the first few minutes after an accident or emergency are critical. Having someone who knows first aid in the area can shorten the response time. These training courses equip you with necessary skills that will help you react quickly and effectively at times of emergencies.
It is very easy to get rattled in the face of an emergency situation. However, first aid training equips you with knowledge skills which can help you overcome anxiety and fear. You gain improved self-confidence by completing a first aid training course.
As a final note, enrolling in a first aid training course can win you new friends and can definitely broaden your circles. These training courses are not that serious, on the contrary, they are fun-filled events that you will hopefully find challenging and enjoyable.
As the summer heats up, people head to the beach, swimming pools, and water theme parks in droves to enjoy the summer sun. And quite expectedly, the number of drowning and near-drowning incidents also increases. Providing immediate first aid for drowning can do so much in improving the outcome of the victim.
There are different water-related injuries that can occur on, in, or near the water. Fractured bones, cuts and wounds, bleeding, medical emergencies, and airway obstruction are just some of the accidents that can occur while enjoying the beach or swimming pool. However, the main concern is the risk of drowning. Even if the initial problem is a medical emergency or an injury, drowning can be result unless the victim is salvaged.
First aid for drowning involves water rescue. But unless you are trained in water rescue or an experienced swimmer, DO NOT attempt to go into the water and save someone from drowning. Water rescue and safety courses can be taken from accredited training providers such as the Red Cross.
In water rescue, the basic order of procedures is as follows:
- REACH AND PULL
If the victim is responsive and is near the shore or poolside, start the rescue by REACHing out or holding out an object towards the victim. Once the victim grabs the object, PULL him out of the water. But before attempting to do this, make sure that you are in a safe and secured position to avoid being dragged into the water. You can use any item in the surrounding for rescue (such as a fishing rod, a tree branch, stick, oar, or other similar objects). A rope is considered the best option. If there are no items available, you can use your clothing, a blanket or a towel to reach the victim. You may also grab the victim by hand but only in cases where there is no object at hand. Again, make sure to have a stable footing.
If the victim is too far, THROW any object that will float. In the absence of personal flotation devices (such as lifejackets, life preserver, or ring buoy), you can use any buoyant object around you such as plastic jugs, cushions, large beach balls, flat balls, plastic toys, and any empty container. Do this as soon as possible.
The victim will instinctively cling onto any buoyant object around
them. Once the victim is on floatation device, find a way to TOW him to shore. If you know how to swim, you may attempt to wade into the water but no deeper than the waist. Also, you should be wearing a flotation device or have access to a safety line towards the shore.
If the victim is very far from the shore, GO to the victim by boat. However, do not attempt this if you do not know how to swim. As much as possible, ask the help of people around.
Reporting a motor vehicle accident is the single most important step in providing first aid. However, if you are the first person to
respond, you should be able to provide the appropriate and complete information to help the emergency medical services.
When calling 911 to report a motor vehicle accident, you should provide the operator with essential information to hasten the delivery of emergency services. Some helpful information you can provide include:
1.The exact location of the accident
If the motor vehicle accident has happened in a built-up area, you should be able to give the exact street address or at least the names of the nearest two streets that intersect. However, if the accident occurred in a rural area, you may have a difficult time learning the exact location. If possible, provide the operator with the nearest crossroads or nearby stores or landmarks. Avoid giving vague directions such as “about four miles south of town…” If you are not familiar with the place either, you can report the nearest landmark from your point of view.
Given today’s advance technology, it is not difficult to locate accidents. Usually, the operator can track you by just checking the GPRS position of your mobile phone. Most mobile phones are able to provide the location.
2.The phone number you are calling from
The operator may need to call you back so you should be able to give your phone number.
3.The name of the caller
State if you are among the victims or a first aider. Do not hang up the phone until you are told to do so. Usually, the operator gives instructions on how you can manage the situation.
4.The types of vehicles involved
The operator needs to know the types of vehicles involved because certain vehicles require special attention from the emergency service personnel. For instance, passenger vehicles such as buses, cars, and vans would normally have passengers thus requiring an ample amount of medical supplies. If there is a truck involved in the accident, you should also provide information about the type of truck and its load. A dump truck or a chemical container would require the emergency service personnel to wear special protection devices.
5.The number of persons injured
It is important for the emergency service personnel to know the number of victims requiring emergency care. If there are more than five victims, the operator may need to send out several ambulances and rescuers. Time can be saved if you are able to provide an accurate number of people injured in the accident.
Lastly, you should be able to give description of the type of injuries sustained by the victims. This will help the operator formulate a decision on the initial response.