The human body is designed to safeguard itself from various communicable pathogens and microorganisms. However, there are instances when the body is subjected to horrific injuries wherein the body simply cannot stabilize itself and must need immediate care for recovery. It is imperative that first aid rescuers must be able recognize serious injuries and provide life saving measures for victims to have a better chance of surviving.
Wounds that require immediate medical care
There are several guidelines that can help first aid rescuers identify which wounds are much serious and require emergency medical care.
- Cuts caused by crushing injuries.
- Cuts over a fracture.
- Cuts with an object embedded in them.
- Cuts caused by sharp objects such as shrapnel and glass.
- Deep puncture wounds (gunshot/stab wounds).
- Animal or human bites.
- Cuts that are anatomically near joints, tendons and nerves.
- Cuts that removed all layers of the skin exposing the muscle tissue.
- Cuts that impair function of the body such as eyelids, lips and ears.
- Long deep cuts that require stitching.
- Wounds that will not stop bleeding after five minutes of applying direct pressure.
- Eviscerated wounds (exposed internal organs).
More importantly rush the victim to the nearest hospital if:
- Arterial bleeding is suspected (bleeding won’t stop despite direct pressure for 15 minutes, bright red blood spurts with every pulse).
- Signs of shock occurs (dizziness, pallor, cold and clammy skin).
- Breathing becomes increasingly difficult for the victim such as cuts to the neck or chest.
- The eyeball has been severed from its socket.
- Abdominal contents are protruding.
- A body part has been forcibly detached from the body.
Any wound whether minor or severe can become infected without proper due care. Immediately seek medical care for infected wounds. Signs of a festered wound include:
- Swelling and redness around the site of the wound
- Sensation of warmth
- Throbbing pain
- Pus discharges
- Swelling of lymph nodes
- Red streaks leading from the wound towards the heart
Tetanus is one of the most life threatening complications as a result of a neglected wound infection. Tetanus is caused by a bacterium that can produce a potent toxin when it enters a wound. The toxin can cause uncontrollable contractions particularly the jaw; hence the term lockjaw.
Because of this danger, everyone needs to a have a series of tetanus vaccinations to defend against the toxin. A booster shot is usually given every ten years to maintain immunity; however severe dirty wounds require a booster shot immediately normally within 72 hours of the injury to be effective.
First aid care for amputations
A loss of a body part is a devastating and emergent injury that requires immediate medical attention. Follow these steps to render emergency care for amputated injuries:
- Promptly call for emergency care services.
- Control bleeding (apply tourniquet on the amputated wound to help control active bleeding).
- Recover the amputated part and wrap it dry clean cloth or sterile gauze.
- Seal the tightly wrapped amputated part in a plastic bag or any waterproof container.
- Keep the part cool (do not freeze, preferably ice and water in a bowl).
Amputated body parts that are not properly cooled for more than 6 hours have little chance of being reconnected to the body. An estimated of 18 hours is the allowable time for a sufficiently cooled amputated body part to be viable for surgery.
Alton, T. et al (2012). First Aid, CPR and AED Standard 6th Ed. Jones & Bartlett Learning