If you've ready any of the articles in this blog, you may have heard me harping on the fact that, in an emergency, the first step should be to call 911. Emergencies are concerning because of the lack of available resources needed to keep a casualty alive.
Emergencies don’t generally occur in a hospital fully staffed with experienced doctors and nurses with complex medical equipment and access to a broad range of pharmaceuticals.
So, we need to get the casualty to those resources as quickly and as safely possible by getting EMT’s on scene with an ambulance.
Since this may be the most important thing you do to save the life of the casualty, we need to discuss how to speak with a 911 operator in an emergency when you are likely to be a little shook up.
It’s easy to get things mixed up, rush your words, and speak incoherently when adrenaline is running full tilt.
If you’re just jumping into this article, go check out the last article I wrote explaining the degrees of burns and some of the risk factors associated with them. This way, you’ll better understand what I’m talking about in this next in the series about how to treat this type of emergency.
I'll start this off with saying burns are nothing to screw around with. Not only can they be very dangerous, but burns are very painful.
In my circle of friends and family I am the community medic and I get calls asking about one thing or another. Whenever I get questions about burns, I always recommend the victim gets seen at a hospital.
This ensures they are treated for their injury and keep it from getting worse, but perhaps more motivating is that the burn victim will be able to get some relief from the pain.
Burns are extremely painful. Even a mild sunburn is uncomfortable, so any injury causing a serious burn is likely to be excruciating. Go to the hospital so the victims pain is managed to acceptable levels.
How to Treat a Burn
Put out the Fire
One of the risks of treating a burn is becoming a burn victim yourself by not making sure the fire is out before touching the casualty. Scene Safety is a very important aspect to emergency medicine. Don’t become another victim in your attempt to take care of the casualty.
According to the CDC, over 1 million people a year are reported to have burns that require medical attention. These burns can come from a lot of different factors, from thermal burns like exposure to a heat source, or from chemicals.
With the rioting and looting going on in America today, the Molotov Cocktail is seeing a come back and understanding how to care for a burn patient might be important.
Let’ s first examine the 3 classifications of burns.
Your skin is the largest organ of the human body and responsible for many different things relating to maintaining homeostasis.
One of the important things that skin does is protect the body from bacteria. If the skin is cut, scraped, scratched, torn, punctured, or compromised in anyway, the barricades are down and open for the enemy to get in.
This is why we’ve learned from a young age that we need to keep our wounds clean. In the last article I explained amputations and focused primarily on the hands since they are one of the more come places for appendages to go MIA.
Hands can take a beating, and paying attention to even small cuts and scrapes can help you avoid serious, and potentially life-threatening infections.
After leaving the military, I worked for a short time in an ammunition factory. Expensive loading machines have a tube full of shock sensitive primers and one day, a primer stack blew up while a coworker was clearing a malfunction, amputating his thumb.
Amputations are something I have some experience with. I’ve had to work on many different forms of traumatic amputations in different environments. From austere locals to clinical settings and I’ve learned a few things along the way that might help if you witness this common injury at your place of work.
To help your memory, here are the 3 main points of why it’s a good idea to leave a rescue to the professionals:
You aren’t trained
You don't have a team helping you
You might do more harm than good
Emergencies are dangerous situations. Not only for the victim, but also for the rescuers. This is why we have rescue experts like firefighters, police officers, and search and rescue teams who train often on how to be successful.
But, if you don’t have a choice and need to attempt a rescue before help arrives, here are some things to consider so you increase your chances for success.
This article contains spoilers. If you haven’t seen the movie, go check it out first so I don’t ruin it for you.
When I was a kid, my dad, a career firefighter, used to stand in the doorway of the kitchen when we watched movies and point out all the fake parts, then carefully detail the way it works in real life.
At the time, I appreciated his thoughts on the movie even less than the rattlesnake stew he made once as an experiment.
Sometimes you don’t want to know how that explosion would have really looked, you just want to enjoy a good film and block out the real world for a bit. Reader beware.
Trauma Medicine is surprisingly simple, but it’s far from easy. Since this is a stressful, life-or-death struggle, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. If you have never been faced by a situation like trauma, deciding on what to do first is the hardest thing to overcome. I’ve found that breaking down an emergency into easily manageable steps is a good way to prevent the confusion that follows when attempting to stabilize a casualty.
Now obviously this is not a perfect example of set-in-stone procedures. Emergencies are dynamic, constantly changing, and have multiple moving parts and their own sets of challenges, so these won’t work for every situation you encounter. But, if you understand how to accomplish the following steps, you can do a lot of good for someone who is counting on you.
In the last post I talked about why I chose to include the default SWAT-T Tourniquets in our kits, instead of the North American Rescue Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT). Hopefully that left you with a good perspective and a look at the rest of the items will help to clear up anything that’s still a little muddy.
The included pouch has been upgraded with quality zippers since they are the first to fail on every medical bag I’ve carried in the field. In an effort to ensure they don’t degrade when you need it most, the zippers have been designed for heavy use.
The MOLLE webbing allows it to be strapped to bags or war belts, and the grab handle gives you a firm purchase for ripping it out of the bottom of a backpack, or a good grip while sprinting to the scene of an emergency. There is plenty of hook and loop space for a name tape or a medical patch for quick identification by everyone.