Other Common Emergencies
Pa State Standards/Objectives/Vocabulary
10.2.12.A: Evaluate health care products and services that impact adult health practices.
10.2.12.B: Assess factors that impact adult health consumer choices. access to health information access to health care cost safety
10.3.12.B: Analyze and apply strategies for the management of injuries. CPR advanced first aid.
Students will learn that they can use first aid to deal with common emergencies such as muscle and bone injuries, impaired consciousness, animal bites, nosebleeds, and poisoning.
Students will learn the first-aid procedures to treat some common medical emergencies.
poison control center
Muscle, Joint, and Bone Injuries
Sports and other physical activities can cause injuries to your muscles, joints, and bones. These kinds of injuries can occur in other situations as well. For example, you could sprain your ankle by tripping over a branch on the sidewalk, break your arm in a car crash, or dislocate your shoulder falling from a ladder.
You can take safety precautions to help avoid injuries such as these. However, you still need to be prepared in case accidents happen. That’s why you should know the proper first-aid procedures for treating injuries such as strains, sprains, fractures, and dislocations.
Muscle and Joint Injuries
Two common and fairly minor injuries are strains and sprains. A strain is a tear in a muscle, while a sprain is an injury to the ligaments around a joint. These injuries produce similar symptoms, including pain, stiffness, swelling, difficulty moving the affected body part, and discoloration or bruising of the surrounding skin. Strains and sprains vary in severity. Severe strains and sprains will require medical care. Call 911 for emergency medical help if...
- the victim is unable to move the affected muscle or joint.
- the pain is severe.
- the injury is bleeding.
- the joint appears deformed.
- you hear a popping sound coming from the joint.
You can treat minor strains and sprains with the P.R.I.C.E. procedure, which includes these steps:
- Protect the affected area by wrapping it in a bandage or splint.
- Rest the injured body part for at least a day.
- Ice the area to reduce swelling and pain. Wrap ice cubes in a cloth or towel and hold it against the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, three times a day.
- Compress the affected area by wrapping it firmly, but not too tightly, in a bandage.
- Elevate the injured body part above the level of the heart, if possible.
You can gradually begin to use the affected body part again as the pain and swelling subside. If the swelling lasts more than two days, see a doctor.
**A lot of people like the saying, “No pain, no gain,” feeling pain during exercise means something is wrong. If you feel pain, you should stop exercising right away. Listen to your body. It knows the difference between real pain and the mild discomfort of a muscle working.***
Fractures and Dislocations
Injuries to bones include fractures and dislocations. A fracture is a break in a bone; a dislocation is a separation of a bone from its normal position in a joint. Symptoms for fractures and dislocations include severe pain, swelling, bruising, and inability to move the affected body part. The limb or joint may be visibly misshapen, discolored, or out of place.
Fractures and dislocations are emergencies that require immediate medical care. The first-aid procedures for both conditions are the same:
1. Call 911 or your local emergency medical service.
2. Do your best to keep the victim still and calm.
3. If the skin is broken, rinse it carefully to prevent infection, taking care not to disturb the bone. Cover the wound with a sterile dressing, if available.
4. If necessary, apply a splint. A splint will immobilize the injured body part to prevent further injury. Attach any kind of rigid support—such as a board or stick—to the injured body part with strips of cloth, immobilizing the area extending above and below the injured bone.
5. Apply an ice pack to reduce pain and swelling.
6. If the injury does not affect the head, neck, legs, or spine, have the victim lie down and raise his or her legs about 12 inches to prevent shock.
Unconsciousness is the condition of not being alert or aware of your surroundings. Victims who are unconscious are not able to respond to simple commands. They also cannot cough or clear their throats, putting them at risk of choking. Nearly any major injury or illness can cause unconsciousness. Alcohol and drug abuse can also cause a person to lose consciousness.
If you encounter someone who has lost consciousness, call 911, check the victim’s breathing, and be prepared to perform CPR if necessary. If the victim is breathing and does not seem to have an injury to the spine, lay the victim down on his or her side. Bend the top leg so that the hip and knee joints form right angles. Gently tilt the victim’s head back to open the airway. This position, known as the recovery position, will help the victim breathe. Keep the victim warm until help arrives.
Fainting and Concussion
A single episode of fainting may not be serious, but it is a warning that medical attention is needed. Victims of fainting should see a doctor as soon as possible if they have never fainted before or they are fainting frequently.
A concussion is a jarring injury to the brain that can cause unconsciousness. Anyone who loses consciousness or experiences memory loss or confusion because of a head injury might have a concussion. Call 911 for all cases of suspected concussion. If the victim is conscious, have him or her lie down. Use first aid to treat any bleeding while you wait for help to arrive. If the victim is unconscious, avoid moving him or her if there is reason to suspect a head or neck injury. Otherwise, you can place the victim in the recovery position.
Other Common Emergencies
Animal bites can transmit serious diseases such as rabies, a viral infection that can be deadly if not treated immediately. Once a person develops symptoms of rabies, the disease cannot be cured. However, a vaccine can prevent the disease if it is given within two days of exposure to the virus. Anyone who is bitten by an unknown or wild animal should seek emergency medical care immediately.
In general, animal bites should be treated like any other open wound. If you’re providing first aid to a bite victim, wash your hands thoroughly and put on protective gloves.
Then wash the bite area thoroughly with mild soap and water. Apply pressure as needed to stop any bleeding. Apply antibiotic ointment and a sterile dressing. If the wound swells, apply ice wrapped in a towel for ten minutes. A tetanus booster shot may be required for any bite that has broken the skin. If the bite develops signs of infection (such as redness, pain, or swelling), seek emergency medical care.
Nosebleeds can occur after an injury to the nose or when very dry air causes the lining of the nose to become irritated. An occasional nosebleed isn’t a cause for concern. If your nose starts bleeding, sit down and squeeze the soft part of the nose between your thumb and finger, holding the nostrils closed, for five to ten minutes. Breathe through your mouth and lean forward to avoid swallowing the blood. An ice pack or cold compress applied to the bridge of the nose may also help. If the bleeding doesn’t stop after 20 minutes, seek emergency medical help.
A poison is any substance that causes injury, illness, or death when it enters the body. The substance can be a solid, liquid, or gas. Almost 2.5 million cases of poisoning occur in the United States each year, resulting in nearly 1,000 deaths. Figure 27.10 shows some ways poisons can enter the body.
The first step in any case of suspected poisoning is to call a poison control center, a round-the-clock service that provides emergency medical advice on how to treat victims of poisoning. You can reach the National Poison Control Hotline at 1-800-222-1222. Keep this number near your phone, and dial it at once in any case of suspected poisoning. Even if you aren’t sure the victim has been poisoned, call right away, rather than wait for symptoms to develop. Some poisons require quick action to minimize damage or prevent death. When you call, be prepared to provide
- your name, location, and telephone number.
- the victim’s condition, age, and weight.
- the name of the poison, when it was taken, and the amount of poison that was involved. If you do not have this information, tell as much as you know.
The poison control expert will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to treat the victim. Do not give the victim any medication unless the expert tells you to do so.
Certain types of snakes can inject venom, a poisonous secretion, into the victim’s body. In the United States, poisonous snakes include rattlesnakes, copperheads, water moccasins (also known as cottonmouths), coral snakes, and cobras. You should treat any snakebite seriously unless you are absolutely sure of the species. Follow these steps:
- Call 911 for medical help and follow the dispatcher’s instructions.
- Try to keep the victim from moving. Keep the affected body part below chest level to reduce the fl ow of venom to the heart.
- Remove rings and other constricting items, since the affected area may swell up.
- Try using a snakebite suction kit, if one is available in your first-aid kit.
- Do not apply a tourniquet, use cold compresses, cut into the bitten area with a blade, suck the venom out by mouth, or give the victim any medications without being advised to do so by a doctor or 911 dispatcher.
The stings of insects such as bees, hornets, and wasps, as well as the bites of certain spiders, are painful but usually not dangerous. If someone allergic to the venom of these insects or spiders has been stung or bitten, call 911. For other cases, follow these steps:
- Remove the stinger by scraping it off with a firm, straight-edged object such as a credit card. Do not use tweezers, since they may squeeze the stinger and release more venom.
- Wash the site thoroughly with mild soap and water to help prevent infection.
- Apply ice (wrapped in a cloth) to the site for ten minutes to reduce pain and swelling. Alternate ten minutes on, ten minutes off.
- Antihistamines and anti-itch creams may help reduce itching.
- If the victim shows signs of severe reaction, such as weakness, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the face, call 911 immediately.
Most people are allergic to poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. Exposure to these plants will cause itching, swelling, redness, burning, and blisters at the site of contact. If you brush up against one of these plants, do not rub your skin, because that will spread the plant oils that cause an allergic reaction. Washing the area immediately with soap and water may prevent a reaction. Take care to wash any clothing or other objects that have touched the plant as well. If an allergic reaction develops, an over-the-counter cream or oral antihistamine may ease the itching.