There are different kinds of chest wounds that are due to various factors. Vehicular accidents can result to blunt chest wounds while gunshots or stabbing can cause penetrating wounds to the chest. Regardless of how a chest wound is caused, the injuries can range from mild to life-threatening. The appropriate first aid measures and treatment usually depends on the injury type, severity and symptoms. Nevertheless, there are general steps to perform when treating a chest wound.
Steps on how to take care of a chest wound
- You might be required to call for emergency assistance if an individual sustained a chest wound. If there is breathing difficulty, severe pain and bleeding that could not be controlled; the individual requires immediate medical care. In case you are uncertain if medical assistance is required, you should still call for emergency assistance to be safe.
- Determine how the injury occurred. When it comes to falls, it can cause a different type of wound. Always remember that chest wounds that are caused by a strong force especially in a vehicular accident can result to blunt force injuries. A penetrating wound can be caused by a gunshot or knife. It is important to fully understand how the injury was sustained in order to determine the appropriate first aid measures and treatment to be given.
- You have to figure out the extent of the injury. The chest wound can be minor or severe such as a gunshot wound causing substantial damage. You have to look out for evident indications of an injury such as bruising, bleeding or an open wound in the chest. The individual must be rolled on his/her side to look for an exit wound if the injury was caused by gunshot.
- The breathing must be assessed. The severity and type of the chest wound sustained can make breathing difficult. Take note of grunting, wheezing sounds or sucking sounds and count the respiratory rate. The normal rate for adults is between 14-20 breaths per minute. Respiratory distress occurs if there is an increase in the breathing rate. Inability to breathe deeply or shallow breathing can also indicate a problem.
- If there is bleeding, it must be controlled. In case the chest wound caused substantial bleeding, you have to call for emergency assistance right away. If the bleeding could not be controlled, it is life-threatening. While the medical team is on the way, first aid measures must be performed to stop the bleeding. You have to apply direct pressure over the wound using a clean cloth.
- The chest wound must be properly sealed. If there is a sucking wound, the air can enter the pleural cavity in the chest which can cause the collapse of the lungs. This is why it is important to seal the wound. You can seal it using a piece of foil or plastic wrap that must be airtight to prevent the entry of air.
- Observe if there are signs of shock. In severe cases of chest wound, either external or internal bleeding can occur that could not be seen. In either causes of blood loss, it can develop into shock which is considered as a medical emergency. The signs of shock include cold skin, weak rapid pulse, confusion, weakness and anxiety. If shock is suspected, call for emergency assistance immediately.