Injuries can happen anywhere, at any time. Knowing how to properly administer CPR and first aid can be the difference between life and death in some cases. This guide will teach you what to do when an injury occurs so that you can stay safe and help those in need.
Different Types of Injuries
Projectile Objects (Embedded)
There are many types of projectile objects that can cause injury – from glass or shrapnel, knives, and metal objects such as rods to bullet wounds. If a projectile object becomes embedded in the skin, you should follow the first aid principles of embedded objects. This involves forming a donut bandage to secure the object (reducing any movement that can potentially cause more injury and damage) and assisting in reducing the bleeding by providing indirect pressure to the area.
NEVER attempt to remove an embedded object. If the object is large and deep, the casualty will likely require surgery to remove it. The main thing is to reduce bleeding, keep the object secure and keep the casualty calm until the ambulance arrives.
Signs and Symptoms
- Obvious signs of a wound (history of injury) in the abdominal area
- Bleeding wound or other obvious injuries, possibly with visible intestines
- Severe pain and possible muscle spasm across the abdominal wall
- Abdominal rigidity
- Bruising of the skin
- Casualty is unable to stand and is holding the injured area for pain relief
- Casualty shows other indications of internal bleeding
- Nausea or vomiting; Intense stomach cramps
There are many types and causes of abdominal injury. Basic first aid principles should be followed depending on the type and cause of the injury, for example:
- Follow guidelines for the treatment of an embedded object. Use a doughnut bandage to avoid movement of the object and to control bleeding
Note: If any internal organs are protruding from the body, DO NOT push them back in. Cover by applying a large moist non-adherent dressing to prevent them from drying out and call 000 / 112 immediately. If possible, get the casualty to lie flat on their back with their knees bent for relief of pain and spasm
Locations of some major abdominal organs
Crush injuries may result from a variety of situations, including vehicle entrapment, falling debris, industrial accidents or prolonged pressure on a part of the body due to their own body weight in an immobile person.
Crush syndrome refers to the multiple problems that may subsequently develop, most commonly as a result of crush injuries to the limbs, particularly the legs. Crush syndrome results from disruption of the body’s chemistry and can result in kidney, heart and other problems. The likelihood of developing acute crush syndrome is directly related to the compression time, therefore crushed persons should be released as quickly as possible, irrespective of how long they have been trapped.
Crush injury should be suspected whenever there is a crushing force. A crush injury should be suspected whenever a part of the body is crushed (pressure from a heavy object onto a body part) or compressed (squeezing of a body part between two objects), or when you are unable to fully see or examine a part of the body.
A crush injury can also result from prolonged pressure to a part of the body due to their own body weight in an immobile person and may show few symptoms or signs.
Signs and Symptoms
Depending on their severity, crush injuries can be complicated by bleeding, bruising, broken bones, open wounds, poor circulation, shock, hypothermia or breakdown of muscle as above.
A person with a crush injury may not complain of pain and there may be no external signs of injury.
Any person who has been subjected to crush injury, including from their own body weight, should be taken to the hospital for immediate investigation.
- Ensure your own safety and the safety of others
- Call 000 immediately and follow their advice as to what to do next
- If physically possible and safe to do so, remove any crushing forces as soon as possible
- Control any bleeding using light to moderate pressure (avoid placing firm pressure
on the abdomen unless required to stop serious bleeding)
- Treat other injuries as possible
- Try to prevent hypothermia – Maintain the casualty’s body temperature
- Keep the casualty calm. Do not leave the casualty unattended
- The casualty should be monitored and if they become unconscious follow DRS ABCD
CAUTION: A tourniquet should not be used for first aid treatment of a crushed limb
Shock is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body is not getting enough blood flow. Shock can damage multiple organs, and requires immediate medical treatment as it can worsen rapidly.
There are many specific types of shock including:
- Hypovolemic shock
- Cardiogenic shock
- Anaphylactic shock
- Neurogenic shock
- Obstructive shock
Shock may be caused by any of the following:
- Loss of blood through internal or external bleeding
- Loss of plasma or fluids, i.e. burns, vomiting, dehydration
- Allergic reactions (Anaphylaxis)
- Heart trouble, heart attack, or stroke
- Poisoning by chemicals, gases, alcohol, or drugs
- Snake and animal bites
- Respiratory problems, chest trauma
- Lack of oxygen
- Obstructions caused by choking
- Injuries of all types, both severe and minor
Symptoms may include:
- Rapid pulse
- Pale grey blue skin
- The capillary test will be slower
- Sweating and cold clammy skin
As shock develops:
- Casualty starts feeling cold (even on a warm day)
- Weakness a-nd giddiness
- Nausea, and the possibility of vomiting
- Rapid shallow breathing
- A weak thready pulse
As the brain O2 levels drop:
- Restless, anxious and even aggressiveness
- Yawn and gasp for air
- Finally, the heart will stop
- If unconscious and breathing, place into the recovery position
- If conscious – lay the casualty down flat onto their back
- Promptly control any bleeding. Manage and treat all other injuries
- Call 000 for professional assistance
- Make the casualty comfortable, i.e. loosen clothing
- Keep the casualty warm. Cover with a blanket if cold
- Reassure and keep the casualty calm
- Continue to monitor the casualty’s physical condition
- You may moisten the casualty’s lips – but be sure that they do not eat or drink
- If the casualty becomes unresponsive and not breathing normally, follow DRS ABCD
Sharps or Needle Stick Injuries are an opportunity for a pathogen to penetrate directly into the bloodstream of another person if not handled carefully. HIV (AIDS) and Hepatitis B are just a few of the possible blood-borne viruses that can be transferred from one person to another. The most common sharps injuries are from needle sticks, typically on the index finger and thumb.
- If injured by a used needle stick, one should always seek medical assistance so that testing and preventative measures can be done to decrease the risk of infection.
Follow all safety procedures:
- Latex or nitrile gloves will not protect you against needle stick injuries
- Never bend or snap used needles
- Never re-cap a needle
- Always place used needles into a clearly labelled and puncture-proof sharps-approved container
If you do become contaminated by a sharp you should follow these steps:
- Penetration of skin – wash the blood/body fluid away with soap and water or handwash for 30 seconds
- Contamination of the eye – rinse with water or saline with the eye open.
- Blood in mouth – spit out blood, and repeatedly wash with water.
- Cover site with a sterile dressing
- Seek professional medical assistance from your local doctor or hospital.