Survival 102: Applying Basic First Aid

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Survival 101: What Survival Is

The point of field medicine first aid is to keep someone stable until they can get help from a medical professional

  • Don’t remove any object unless you have medical training
  • Keep the environment sterile
    • For anything involving contact with the victim, put on protective gloves as a barrier between you and the victim
      • You’re not helping anyone if you get a disease while aiding them
    • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water when finished

Before anything else, deal with any immediate bleeding

  1. Call 911 for medical assistance
  2. Keep the victim lying down, tie them down if they refuse to listen
  3. Apply direct pressure with a clean cloth or sterile dressing to any wounds
    • Don’t remove any object lodged in a wound, it may cause worse bleeding
    • People don’t need to lose much blood to die, so any bleeding is a major problem
  4. If there are no signs of a broken bone in the injured area, carefully elevate the wound above the victim’s heart to reduce swelling
  5. Once bleeding has been controlled, keep them warm with a blanket and keep confirming they haven’t gone into shock
    • Shock is when there’s not enough oxygen getting to the body from too much blood loss, and it’s usually fatal without treatment
      • Symptoms involve cold and sweaty skin, a weak and rapid heart rate, irritability, thirst and irregular breathing
    • If you have an IV dripper available and coconut fluid, it can be used instead of saline to help keep them stable

Next, clean and bandage any wounds

  1. After washing your hands, clean the injured area with soap and water, then blot it dry
    • If you wipe it dry you will probably reopen the wound and will cause tremendous pain to them
  2. Apply antibiotic ointment to the wound if it’s minor
    • Keep the wound moist and covered to speed up the healing process
    • Honey is also great as an anti-bacterial agent
    • Sugar will dehydrate bacteria, dry out a wound and promote fresh tissue growth
  3. Cover with a sterile gauze dressing or a bandage that is slightly larger than the actual wound
    • If you don’t have a dressing, clean spiderwebs can also seal the wound

Learn about all the special circumstances

  • Treating itches
    • Use any anti-itch cream to tighten the blood vessels and reduce the itching for anything that irritates
      • Deodorant can also stop most itching
    • Treat poison ivy by rubbing liquid dish soap onto the affected skin, then rinsing after letting it sit
    • To make a bug bite itch go away
      • Press a hot spoon onto the skin to break up the proteins that cause the itch
      • Make an X on the bite with your fingernails
      • Apply scotch tape or nail polish to the area
    • To remove mosquito bite itches
      • Apply soap or white-out to the affected area
      • Rub banana peel onto the bite
  • Treating a choking victim
    • If the victim is at least two years old
      • Ask the victim if they are okay
        • Don’t interfere or give first aid if they can speak, breathe or cough
      • If the victim can’t speak, breathe or cough
        • Point to someone and ask them to call 911
        • Perform the Heimlech maneuver
          1. Stand behind them, make a fist and place it between the bottom of their ribs and their navel
          2. Grab the fist with the other hand and make a powerful upward thrust
          3. Repeat until the object has been dislodged
        • If you are by yourself and choking, you can do the Heimlech maneuver on yourself by pushing into the top of a chair
    • If the victim is an infant and is clearly choking
      • Place the infant face down on your forearm and support the head and neck with your hand
      • Rest your hand on your knee with the infant’s head lower than its body
      • Give four blows between the infant’s shoulder blades with the heel of your hand
      • Turn the infant over, place two fingers on the center of the infant’s chest (right below the nipples) and give up to five chest thrusts
      • Repeat until the obstruction is clear
    • Seek medical attention after any choking incident, since complications might arise
  • Treating a heart attack
    • The victim will feel pain on their left arm, they will have shortness of breath and their heart rate will be extremely rapid
    • Call 911 immediately, then try to not move the victim
    • If it is available, give them an uncoated aspirin to chew
  • Treating an unconscious victim
    1. Assess the victim’s state of awareness by asking if they’re okay
      • Don’t leave an unconscious victim alone except to call 911 for medical help
    2. Check their airways, breathing and circulation (ABC), in that order
      • If the victim’s ABC are not present, perform CPR if you are trained and qualified for it
    3. If ABC is present and you don’t suspect spinal injury, place the victim on their side with their chin on the ground
      • This makes it easier for the body to drain fluids
    4. Cover the victim with a blanket to keep them warm and prevent shock
      • Remove the blanket if the victim indicates they feel warm
  • Treating eye injuries
    • If an object is impaled in the eye
      • Call 911 immediately
        • Always consult a medical professional after every eye injury
      • Cover both eyes with sterile dressings or eye cups to immobilize it
        • Covering both eyes will minimize the injured eye’s movement
        • Carefully do this and don’t rub, apply pressure, ice or raw meat to the injured eye
    • If the injury is a black eye, you can put ice to the cheek and area around the eye, but not directly to the eyeball
    • If the eye has a chemical in it, flush the eyes with cool or room temperature water for at least 15 minutes
      • Remove contact lenses after flushing, not before
      • If it’s in one eye, flush the eyes by positioning the victim’s head with the contaminated eye on the bottom
        • This prevents the other eye from being contaminated
    • If the eye has small particles in it
      • Fill a bowl of water big enough for the victim’s face
      • Have the victim open their eyes while their eye is submerged
  • Treating burns
    • There are 3 degrees of burns
      • 1st degree burn – skin looks red and might be swollen or painful, generally doesn’t need medical attention
      • 2nd degree burn – skin looks red, blistered and swollen and might need medical attention
      • 3rd degree burn – skin is visibly charred and might be white, it is usually very painful, it absolutely requires medical attention
    • Treating sunburns
      • Avoid any further exposure to direct sunlight
      • Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration
      • Use over-the-counter remedies to aid discomfort
        • Don’t apply cold water or ice to a severe burn
        • Gently rubbing the burns with white vinegar can relieve pain
      • If the burn is severe and blisters develop, seek medical attention
    • Treating minor burns
      • Submerge the burn area immediately in cool water until the pain stops
        • If the affected area is large, cover it with cool wet cloths
        • Don’t break blisters if you find any
      • If the pain continues but the victim doesn’t need medical attention, apply medicated first aid cream or gel and cover it with a sterile dressing
        • Over-steeped black tea with 3+ bags cooled to room temperature will work instead of cream or gel
        • Aloe vera plant sap speeds up the healing process for burns and alleviates pain
        • Pain from burns can be relieved by applying vinegar
      • If the victim needs medical attention or you don’t know, simply cover it with a dry, sterile dressing and don’t apply cream, then seek medical help
    • Treating major burns
      • Call 911, 3rd degree burns must receive medical attention immediately
        • Don’t try to remove any clothing stuck to the burned area
      • Cover the burn with a sterile dressing or a clean sheet, don’t apply any creams or gels
  • Treating chemical burns
    • Flush the affected area with cool running water for at least 15 minutes
      • If the chemical burn is in the eyes, flush it continuously with water and seek medical attention immediately
    • Remove all contaminated clothing and jewelry
    • Monitor the victim for shock and seek medical attention for them
  • Treating a poisoning
    • Call your local Poison Control Center or 911 immediately
      • Antidotes on labels might be wrong, so don’t follow them unless instructed by a doctor
    • If the poison is on the skin, flush the skin with water for 15 minutes, then wash and rinse with soap and water
    • If the poison is in the eye, flush it with lukewarm water for 15 minutes
      • Adults can stand under the shower with their eyes open
      • Always consult a medical professional after every eye injury
    • Never give anything by mouth (ipecac, milk, water, etc.) until you ave consulted with a medical professional
      • Keep a one-ounce bottle of ipecac on hand at all times in case of an emergency, but only use when directed by a doctor
  • Treating a bee sting
    • If possible, remove the stinger by scraping it off with a blunt edge such as a credit card
    • Clean the wound and apply a cold compress to reduce the swelling
      • Bee and wasp venom can be neutralized with baking soda
      • Bee sting pain can be relieved with vinegar
    • Remove tight clothing and jewelry from areas near the bite just in case it starts swelling
    • Watch for signs of shock or allergic reaction
      • Allergic reactions can include swelling or itching at the site of the wound, dizziness, nausea or difficulty breathing
        • Seek medical attention if any of these signs occur
    • If there is an allergic reaction call 911 and continue monitoring the victim for signs of shock until help arrives
    • Check the victim’s ABC’s, then begin CPR if their ABC’s are impaired and you’re qualified to perform it
  • Treating animal bites
    • If it’s a snake bite
      1. Call emergency services immediately
      2. Try to get a photo of the snake to help emergency services decide on correct treatment
      3. Minimize movement, loosen clothing and put pressure on the bite
      4. Don’t take painkillers and keep the wound below the person’s heart
    • Control any bleeding, but don’t close the wound to avoid the risk of infection
    • Rinse the bite thoroughly by holding it under running water
    • Clean it with soap and water and hold it under water again for five minutes
    • Cover it with a dry sterile bandage or gauze
      • Don’t put ointments or medicines on the wound
    • Seek medical attention immediately
      • Report any animal and human bites to local police/health authorities
  • Treating ear infections
    1. Have victim lie on their side
    2. Fill the infected ear with 3% hydrogen peroxide
    3. Wait about 5-10 minutes until the bubbling stops, then clean out all the earwax with a cotton swab
Next: Survival 103: Disaster Preparedness