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.
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.
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.
Not everyone has a background in medicine and may not fully understand the wide variety of gear that’s available on the market. Those people tend to take me at my word that the items in the Mountain Man Medical kits are the best options for the widest number of situations.
Others have asked why I chose one product over another and their questions are completely justified. The market for medical gear is huge and getting bigger every day as new companies look for better methods and innovations for keeping people alive.
I’ve had the opportunity to talk with a variety of medics,
both in the military and civilian world. From EMTs, paramedics, ER doctors,
special operators, fire fighters and first responders, and sometimes I ask why
they chose their profession.
Some are in the medical field because they fell into it. But
often, the answer I get for why they do such a difficult job is because at some
point in their life, they witnessed a life-threatening injury and didn’t know
what to do about it.
That feeling of helplessness while they watched someone,
maybe someone they loved, struggle to stay alive drove them to pursue their
profession. They wanted, badly, to help, but didn’t know where to begin.
It confuses me that medical kits are often neglected. I’ve
been in the medical world for a few years now and I’ve never had a hard time
convincing someone that medical equipment is a good idea to have nearby.
But I still seldom encounter someone who keeps one nearby, even
if they’re never more than an arm’s length away from a weapon. A large number
of the people in my life don’t think twice about strapping up just to take out
the garbage, but haven’t thought twice about having a quality medical kit in
I get it. Tourniquets just aren’t as sexy as the latest Glock
you’ve had your eye on, or that new combat folder you’ll probably only use to
open Amazon boxes. Trust me, I get it because I’m the same way.
It’s easy to understand that dealing with trauma is
stressful. Emergencies are usually unexpected, and the surprise of a life-threatening
injury can throw even a normally calm person into panic.
This is especially the case when you don’t have any training
in first aid since you aren’t sure what to do. I know well what that particular
feeling is like. I have been the one standing there looking at a life-threatening
injury and not knowing what to do about it. It’s a terrible feeling and one I
work to avoid whenever I can.
Fortunately, it’s possible to avoid that feeling of helplessness,
and since it’s affected me so strongly, I’ve put a lot of thought into how it
can be dodged. Here’s one technique for how to manage panic in an emergency.