People who are first responders to the scene of an emergency or even a collapse at home or at work need to know what to do to preserve life and prevent death. This is even particularly important at home at times when it may be difficult to get the patient to a hospital. This could be at night or in a rural area. Everyone including doctors, nurses, paramedics and YOU need training in life-saving skills appropriate to their levels.
The type of training includes: first aid, basic life support, advanced trauma life support, definitive surgical trauma course and specialist training for particular conditions such as brain and spine injuries. The courses should be appropriate to the level of the individuals and it is a must for the men and women of the rescue services such as the Federal Road Safety Corps, Police, Army and the National Emergency Management Agency.
Many Nigerians are not equipped with life-saving skills and actually do more harm than good for the victims requiring emergency care. This must change and we need to empower members of the public to be able to offer safe and life-saving support both at home and on the streets. The skills are simple to learn and proven to save lives.
Suppose someone collapses and becomes unconscious at home. The usual panic sets in and the mad rush to the nearest medical facility ensues. During the time of this rush, no one is actually paying close attention to the victim and therefore many victims arrive in the hospital only to be confirmed dead.
Therefore people need to be trained to perform resuscitation manoeuvres on the victim and preserve their lives, prevent death BEFORE transfer to hospital. That way many will arrive in the hospital alive and doctors can then take over to investigate the cause of the collapse and sustain that life. This way, many people will be saved.
In case of an emergency, the first thing the first person arriving at the scene needs to do is to speak to the victim and confirm that they are not responsive. No response to calls or shaking and not waking up should signify that something is very wrong. The first responder must “SHOUT” for help and get more people to come and assist in making decisions and helping in the recovery of the victim. Do not do everything by yourself.
Get help!! Then, please do no harm and do not move the victim without proper care and due diligence. No rough dragging, no sitting up and definitely no pouring concoctions or drugs into the mouth. Do no harm.
Someone who is unconscious and vomiting should be turned on to their side. This will allow the vomit to pass out of the mouth safely and prevent choking. The important point is that air cannot go into the lungs if the tongue, vomit, blood or food is blocking the airway. The resuscitation skills we need to teach people is simply to learn and simple to apply. You need only remember that it is as simple as A, B, C.
A means AIRWAY. Is the airway clear? Not obstructed by food, vomit, blood or the tongue? If you think it is, then, please open the mouth and clean away any of these liquids and remove any food particles. Tilt the head and lift up the chin. This will also help open the airway.
B means BREATHING. Are they breathing? Can you feel their breath on your face? Can you hear their breathing? Is the chest moving, rising up and down? If not, then they are not breathing and you need to breathe for them. This means the KISS OF LIFE must be given. Pinch the nose close (in an adult) and open the mouth. Then, you take a deep breath and sealing your moth closely over the victims’ mouth, breath out into their lungs. Do it twice. Keep the victims’ nose closed and the mouth open as you do this.
C means CIRCULATION. Do they have a pulse? Feel their radial artery or carotid pulse. If no pulse or it’s faint, then please start CARDIAC MASSAGE. This has to be taught and is not simple to describe. Essentially, it means compressing the heart through the chest bone 30 times without breaking the ribs or doing any harm. This must then be alternated with the kiss of life. Do 30 chest compressions and then 2 kisses of life.
Continue doing this until the victim wakes up or medical help arrives.