by Kimberly Allen, RN
One of the things that really got my attention during the recent events is the huge difference in the availability of medical care. First in Boston, a city well known for it’s first rate medical facilities and medical care and then a small rural town, West, TX where the nearest medical facility is 25 miles away, and it’s not even a trauma 1 facility. As devastating as the damage from the bombs in Boston was it could have been much worse. Many of the injuries involved traumatic loss of limb(s), if the limb has been amputated then the heart is pumping the blood out arteries that are no longer continuous sealed vessels out of the body. This can lead to a person bleeding to death in a very short time. However because of the marathon, there were literally thousands of medical personnel right there. This means the injured were being treated in seconds rather than minutes which significantly increases the chances of survival. Then you add the fact that 5 of the top medical facilities in the country all less than 5 minutes away, and all trauma 1 facilities the chances of survival increases even further. Then there are the rural communities like West, TX where there is no medical facility and all emergency services personnel are volunteers. When a sudden and unexpected disaster occurs like the explosion at the fertilizer plant whose there to provide care and assistance?
So what is first aid? It is the immediate care that is given for an injury or illness. Believe it or not most of the time this initial care is performed by non-trained people. That could be you. As both the incidents in Boston and West, TX remind us disaster can strike anywhere at anytime. And it doesn’t have to be explosions, what about the multi vehicle pile ups that have occurred on the interstates of several states? There are usually many injuries and few medical personnel immediately available and depending on where you are it could take hours to get you to a medical facility.
There are a variety of basic first aide classes available at nearly every fire station and community centers across the country, many of which are free. There are also many online sites that can provide you with the basics, you never know when a situation may develop that requires you to react quickly either on behalf of yourself or someone else. Being able as well as willing to administer first aid quickly and correctly can mean the difference between life and death.
Basic first aid usually involves treatment for minor injuries like scrapes, cuts and burns as well as stings and insect bites, but it can also play a significant role in the survival of traumatic injury victims. As a rule first aid is used to prevent further decline in the victims health as well as prevent infection and relieve pain until medical assistance arrives. Basically first aid is like the first line of defense in a medical emergency. Learning basic first aid whether you choose to learn CPR or not will give you the advantage of being able to control the situation instead of the situation controlling you. having the knowledge of what to look for, what to expect and what to do can help you stay clam and focused. Remember most accidents happen when you’re not expecting them and many happen where it’s going to take time for medical assistance to arrive leaving you a the non- medical person to step in and temporarily assume the role of emergency aid provider.
Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to HealthAndFitnessTalk.com, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.