Rescue breathing will provide vital oxygen to a victim who cannot breath on their own. After giving a victim two breaths, the pulse is checked at the Carotid Artery to ascertain if the victim has a heartbeat. This artery is located on the side of the neck and is found by first positioning the fingers on the victim’s Adam’s Apple, then sliding the fingers down into the soft groove on the side of the neck. The pulse is checked for 5 to 10 seconds.
If the victim has a heartbeat, but is not breathing, RESCUE BREATHING is required. If the victim is NOT breathing AND does NOT have a HEARTBEAT, CPR is required without delay!
These initial steps of checking the AIRWAY, BREATHING and CIRCULATION (pulse), together with a check for major BLEEDING, constitute THE PRIMARY SURVEY, which looks for life-threatening conditions!
In every instance where first aid is to be provided, it is important to always ask a conscious victim for permission to help them. If a victim is unconscious, it is presumed they have provided consent for you to assist them.
2.2 Obstructions in the Airway
NOTE: Emergency treatment of airway obstructions is taught as part of CPR training and only through classroom practice can the necessary skills be mastered. The mechanics of handling airway obstructions are presented in this tutorial for background insight only
If an individual is choking – but can speak or cough forcibly – there is an exchange of air (although it might be diminished) and you should encourage the victim to continue coughing while you just stand by! On the other hand, if a victim is choking, but CANNOT speak or cough, an airway obstruction exists which must be treated immediately!
The treatment for an obstructed airway in a conscious victim involves use of the Heimlich maneuver, which is performed as follows:
• Stand behind the victim.
• Wrap your arms around the victim’s waist.
• Make a fist with one hand and place the thumb side of the fist against the victim’s abdomen just above the navel and well below the lower tip of the breastbone.
• Grasp your fist with your other hand, with elbows out, and press your fist into the victim’s abdomen with quick, upward thrusts.
• Each thrust is a distinct, separate attempt to dislodge the foreign object.
• Repeat thrusts until foreign object is cleared or the victim becomes unconscious.
• Emergency treatment of airway obstructions in an unconscious victim is taught in CPR classes
2.3 Heart Attack
Heart attacks are among the leading cause of death in the United States. A heart attack happens when one or more of the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart become blocked. When this occurs, cells in the heart begin to die when they cannot get blood for vital nourishment. If a large part of the heart is deprived of blood, the heart stops beating and the victim suffers CARDIAC ARREST!
When a victim’s heart stops beating, they require CARDIO PULMONARY RESUSCITATION (CPR) which provides vital oxygen through rescue breathing and which maintains circulation through chest compressions.
PROPER TRAINING IS REQUIRED TO PERFORM CPR, HOWEVER ANY HEART ATTACK CAN LEAD TO CARDIAC ARREST AND IT IS THEREFORE VITAL FOR FIRST AIDERS TO BE ABLE TO RECOGNIZE THE EARLY WARNING SIGNS OF A HEART ATTACK SO THE VICTIM CAN RECEIVE PROMPT PROFESSIONAL ATTENTION!
A heart attack victim whose heart is still beating has a much better chance of survival than a victim whose heart has stopped! Most heart attack victims who die succumb within 2 hours after having their heart attack. Many of these victims could be saved if bystanders recognize the symptoms of a heart attack and get the victim to a hospital quickly! Indeed, many victims of heart attacks think they are experiencing HEARTBURN or other minor discomfort when in fact their life is in jeopardy!
The most significant sign of a heart attack is chest pain. The victim may describe it as pressure, a feeling of tightness in the chest, aching, crushing, fullness or tightness, constricting or heavy pain. The pain may be located in the center of the chest although it is not uncommon for the pain to radiate to one or both shoulders or arms or to the neck, jaw or back.
In addition to pain, victims may experience sweating, nausea or shortness of breath. Many victims deny they may be having a heart attack. Others may have their condition worsened by fear of dying.
With all victims of heart attacks – and with all victims receiving first aid for any condition – it is important for the rescuer to constantly reassure the victim and keep them as calm and relaxed as possible.
The psychological value of reassurance is as important in first aid as any treatments!
• Recognize the signs & symptoms of a heart attack
• Comfort & reassure the victim
• Have the victim stop whatever they were doing and sit or lie in a comfortable position
• Summon emergency medical help quickly
• If the victim become unconscious, be prepared to perform CPR
[IF YOU ARE TRAINED TO DO SO]
All of us can reduce the risk of heart attack by controlling high blood pressure, limiting cholesterol in the diet, watching weight, exercising, giving up smoking and minimizing stress.
Major bleeding may be a life-threatening condition requiring immediate attention. Bleeding may be external or internal. Bleeding may be from an ARTERY, a major blood vessel which carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart throughout the body. It may be from a VEIN, which carries blood back to the heart to be oxygenated or bleeding may be from a CAPILLARY, the smallest of our body’s blood vessels.
ARTERIAL bleeding is characterized by spurts with each beat of the heart, is bright red in color (although blood darkens when it meets the air) and is usually severe and hard to control. ARTERIAL bleeding requires immediate attention!