First Aid in the Workplace: Key Points

Let’s talk first aid. The following covers a few key points on first aid in the workplace, something which any employee of any responsible organization should be trained up on.

Diagnosing Medical Ailments

First aid focusses initially on signs, symptoms and history. In first aid lingo, signs are things which you can see when you look at a patient. Are they pale? Are they sweating? Are they bleeding? Are they conscious? Symptoms are things which the patient feels. Are they saying that they feel nauseous? Hot? Cold? Are they reporting blurry vision? Patient history is what they were doing which led up to this point. Are they on any prescription meds? Have they just been exercising, if so doing what? Have they fallen down? Do they have any pre-existing medical conditions or injuries? The important thing to remember from a first aid point of view is that all of these are guidelines, never definite indicators. If the diagnosis is uncertain, then one should always refer up to a qualified medical practitioner. With serious injuries, and especially with suspected spinal injuries, the priority is to protect the patient from further injury, never to attempt to treat it yourself; spinal cord injury diagnosis and treatment is extremely complex delicate, according to providers like bioxcellerator, and are far beyond the domain of a first aider.

Example Diagnoses

Some things are highly recognizable, for example pain and swelling on a joint after a fall indicates a sprain, which should be treated with rest and cold compression, or a trip to A&E if serious. Pale, clammy skin, disorientation, dizziness and nausea is often the result of the body going into shock, which can be treated by lying the patient down and elevating the legs. A limb jutting out in an awkward position, following an accident, may well be a dislocation or bone fracture, and should be left well alone or placed in a sling, before being treated by paramedics. The more extreme things to look out for are severe chest pains combined with sweating and an impending sense of doom, which could be signs and symptoms of a heart attack, or a sudden drop of one side of the face, a loss of function in the arms and slurred speech, which could be signs of stroke. Both are, obviously, life threatening medical emergencies, and you should act FAST in calling an ambulance.

 

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)

The worst-case scenario is a patient falling unconscious and their breathing ceasing altogether. This does not mean they are dead, but they are minutes away if you do not act immediately. There are three basic types of CPR, depending on whether the patient is an adult, child or infant. For a adult, one goes straight into chest compressions, at a rate of 100 to 120 per minute at a depth of 5 to 6 cm directly on the heart, then alternating between sets of compressions and two breaths mouth to mouth. For children, one starts with five rescue breaths, using one hand to compress the heart at a depth of 5cm. For infants, it is 4cm, using the first two fingers of your good hand, and again, beginning with 5 rescue breaths covering the nose and the mouth in the process. It is also vital you support the baby’s head throughout. In any CPR situation, an ambulance and a defibrillator should be requested at the earliest opportunity possible. This is information that may save a life, and therefore, cannot be repeated enough.

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