5 Medical Emergencies and How to Deal With Them

How to Survive a Heart Attack

The way in which you deal with medical emergencies can make a difference between life and death.

Whether it is chest pain, choking or even seizures. Would you know how to react when faced with such an emergency?

Many people, when faced with a medical emergency are often hesitant to get involved, not because they don’t want to help but because they’re worried they won’t know what to do.

So what should you do when faced with such an emergency?

Chest Pain

If someone was to suddenly clutch their chest and complain about chest pain, you need to assume that it is a heart attack.

You may feel this is jumping to conclusions a little but you should keep the thought of a heart attack until you can prove different.

Age doesn’t play a part as anyone can have a heart attack at any age.

What you should do: Dial 999 or 911 immediately. Then check their airway, breathing and circulation (ABC). Are they breathing? Do they have a pulse? If not, start CPR.

If someone is not breathing, position their head with their chin up, get their tongue out of the way (so the airway is open), then start doing chest compressions.

Choking

Choking happens when someone’s airway suddenly gets blocked, either fully or partly, so they can’t breathe.

When they’re coughing, it’s OK, because there is air movement, so they are breathing.

If they’re not making any noise at all and their face is getting red, you need to jump into action and perform the Heimlich maneuver.

It is important that you don’t jump in too soon with this maneuver as doing the Heimlich whilst the person is coughing can make the situation worse.

Also, hitting a choking person on the back can make the situation worse — the food may go back into the windpipe.

They need to work it out themselves; leave them alone, until they reach a point where there’s no airway noise.

Seizures

The symptoms of seizures vary. These symptoms include:

  • They may fall down and/or make erratic movements
  • Their head might jerk and eyes flutter. (This could happen to children who have a high fever, to someone with epilepsy, or when someone is having a stroke.

All seizures require medical attention so you should call 999 or 911 straight away. While waiting for the paramedics to arrive, it is your responsibility to make sure that they do not hurt themselves.

If they fall down, get everyone away from them. They could end up hurting anybody that is close.

It used to be advised to try and put something in the person’s mouth but this is no longer recommended as it’s too dangerous. Keep your eye on the clock and take note of how long the seizure lasts.

Stroke

During a stroke, the brain cells die due to an inadequate blood supply. This could be due to hemorrhages (excessive bleeding) or due to ischemia (blockage of the vessels due to clots).

The symptoms of a stroke include:

  • Speech – there can be a slurring of speech or a total absence of speech in spite of being awake
  • Face – drooping of mouth and one or both the eyes, inability to smile or show expressions
  • Arm – inability to lift the arms or even keep them in place, numbness may be present in either of the arms
  • Other symptoms include blurring of vision, severe headache, dizziness and sudden fall.

Dial 999 or 911 immediately as treatment needs to be provided within 3-4 hours for the survival of the victim.

Fainting

There could be any number of reasons for somebody to start feeling weak, ill, or dizzy. It could be a heart condition, diabetes, low blood sugar, pregnancy, heart attack, or it could be heat-related.

Either way, call for medical assistance and do the following while you wait for paramedics to arrive:

  • Check alertness: Ask, “Are you OK?” If they respond, ask ‘Do you know where you are?’ Ask things to determine level of orientation. If they become unresponsive, check for pulse, check to see if they’re breathing.
  • Check breathing: Listen for breathing through the nose, watch the chest for rise and fall. Take a pulse, either at the wrist or neck. If they are breathing and have a pulse, you should stay with them to offer support.
  • Start CPR: If the patient isn’t breathing and does not have a pulse, start CPR.
  • Make the patient comfortable: If this person has been out in the heat, move them to a shady spot. If they’re sweating, pour water over their skin. If they’re awake, give them fluids to drink.

Extra Notes

Survey the area for any possible dangers, such as a gas leak, fire, or falling objects. If needed, do what you can to secure the scene and prevent further accidents.

Try to determine exactly what is or has happened and look for emergency medical information such as bracelets or cards.

Call for help. The faster you call 999 or 911, the sooner the victim can be treated.

When intervening it is important that you don’t cause the victim any further harm. Never move anyone who could have a spinal injury, unless the scene is unsafe. Check the persons airway, breathing and circulation. If the victim is not breathing, perform chest compressions immediately. Don’t stop until either the patient revives, the rescuer gets too tired to continue, or emergency personnel arrive.

Remain calm and focused at all times. Knowing what to do and having the necessary supplies will give you confidence to act quickly. If you feel yourself starting to panic, stop and take two or three deep breaths. Count slowly from one to 10. Tell yourself that you can handle the situation.

If an injured person is confused or agitated, reassure him or her if possible. Then calmly review what you need to do.

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