Now weeks after the tragic shooting in Las Vegas, many stories have come to light about the heroic actions of concert goers. With so many injured, the medical workers were simply unable to help everyone in need. However, complete strangers responded in admirable ways to help save the lives of those around them. That being said, how could someone with no medical background know how to respond in an emergency situation? Many public health organizations are now encouraging bystander first aid and response training. For example, the Emergency Care Coordination Center (ECCC) has partnered with the White House National Security Council (NSC) in an initiative to teach citizens how to stop the bleeding in an instance of life-threatening hemorrhage. While formal training is certainly the best way to be prepared for an emergency, everyone should know at least basic emergency first aid. Want to learn how to respond in an emergency? Check out the tips below!
Bystander First Aid Tips
Make Sure You’re Safe First
If you find yourself in an emergency situation, it is important to ensure your own safety first. After all, you will not be able to help at all if you are significantly injured. Take a brief moment to assess yourself for injuries. You should both see if you can feel and see any injuries. Don’t forget to look yourself over! When your body suffers from a trauma you may enter a state of shock. This can affect the way that you experience pain. If you don’t examine yourself for injuries, you might miss something simply because you can’t feel it.
Assess the Situation
Along the same lines as ensuring your safety first, assess the situation. What happened, how many people are involved, and is it safe to enter the scene? This applies first to the scene at large and next to the individual you want to help. Assess the person you are trying to help for significant injuries. By doing so you can identify if there are multiple injuries and which one is in need of more immediate attention. Generally speaking, always take a few seconds to observe and gather as much information as you are able.
Stop the Bleeding
After assessing the situation, you should be aware of any life-threatening bleeding. Although this will likely be a judgment call, there are a few signs to look for. Signs of life-threatening bleeding include blood spurting out of a wound, blood pooling on the ground, clothing soaked with blood, and confusion or loss of consciousness in a bleeding victim. However, even if you can tell that bleeding is life-threatening, it can be difficult to tell where it is coming from. The first step when trying to stop bleeding is to find the source. After you’ve found the source, open or remove clothing as necessary so that you can clearly see the wound. Ultimately, the only way to stop bleeding is through compression. Find a clean cloth (you can use a shirt or something similar) and apply firm, constant pressure to the source of the bleeding. Bystander first aid training can provide further information about how to stop bleeding.
Look for Help
Although an untrained bystander can save someone’s life, some medical emergencies will simply be too complicated for anyone other than a medical professional to address. If you are in a situation where you do not know how to help, attempt to find someone who can help as quickly as possible. In the meantime, gather as much information about the victim and his or her injury as possible. Sharing this information with the individuals who eventually treat them can also help save their life.
Bystander first aid training is still the best way to become proficient in emergency response for the average citizen. However, having a general understanding of what you can do is always helpful. Of course, ideally, you will never need to use these tips. This said it is always best to be prepared for the unexpected. For doctors looking to help in emergency situations, consider emergency medicine travel jobs. You will certainly have the opportunity to save many lives.