Back injuries and first aid

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Saturday, January 07, 2006
By Yokota Fritz


I thought auto accident first aid was common knowledge but apparently it's not. Susan witnessed a kid on a bike get hit by a car. The kid is seriously injured, lying in the street moaning and crying in pain. Susan and the criminal driver moved the injured boy off of the road. Susan's friends then congratulated her for assisting the boy.

For crying out loud, DON'T DO THAT! Bad bad bad. You can possibly paralyze or kill the injured victim if you move him without properly supporting his back and neck. Here's what the Red Cross has to say about moving injured victims.
If a cyclist or pedestrian is lying in the road, should I move them?

Try to avoid moving the injured person until you have assessed their injuries. Ask bystanders to stop the traffic by signalling to drivers from the pavement. If you suspect that the injured person has a neck or back injury, you must not move them unless absolutely necessary; that is, in immediate danger, such as from fire.
If you must move the person because of more imminent danger or to assess breathing of an unconscious person, support the back and neck. Keep the neck and torso as straight as possible and move in a direction that keeps the spine as straight as possible.

All damage to the spinal cord is permanent because nerve tissue cannot heal itself. The result of nerve damage is paralysis or death.

If you didn't know this already, for goodness sake take the Red Cross First Aid class or the equivalent for your area. American Red Cross First Aid: Responding To Emergencies is the text used for this class. The life you save might be mine.

I am U.S. Red Cross certified for CPR and First Aid. I am not qualified to move people with back injuries. Tags: , , , , ,


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Comments:
Amen on that.

I am also certified by the Red Cross.

There aren't many situations I could think of that would warrant moving an injured person.
 
Indeed, the best course of action with a person involved in a traumatic incident where they may have injured their neck or back is to not move them and to encourage them to lie still.

Believe it or not, a neck injury is one of the few things that can kill a person in a matter of moments. A spinal cord injury at a high enough level can paralyze the breathing muscles. A person who stops breathing will soon be dead.

The most important things you can do for an injured person are to activate the EMS system by dialing the emergency number (9-1-1 in most of the USA) and to KEEP THEM WARM by covering them with a blanket or jacket. Reassure them that help is on the way and encourage them to stay still until EMS arrives.

An injured person may be moved only in situations where there is an immediate threat to their lives. Some examples would be a person in a car that's on fire or that's about to fill with water, or a person who needs CPR. Even in these cases an effort should be made to keep the head and neck in a straight line without turning or bending it.

I encourage EVERYBODY to take a CPR and/or a First Aid course so that they know what to do in an emergency
 
An Addendum: Of course, other immediate life threats need to be addressed too. If a person isn't breathing or is bleeding heavily then those issues need to be taken care of immediately. A good CPR and First Aid course will teach you how.
 
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