ABC Emergency Assessment
In any emergency situation, run through the ‘Dr ABC’ checklist to ensure you do everything in the right order and in the casualty’s best interests:-
- Danger: Check for danger, for example the risk of a loose horse trampling the casualty;
- Response: Talk to the person and place your hands on their shoulders and gently shake them to see if they are responsive or unconscious;
- Shout for help and assistance;
- Airway: Ensure their away is not blocked, for example by the tongue. Tilting the head and lifting the chin will move the tongue;
- Breathing: Look and listen to see if the casualty is breathing. Your next steps will depend on whether or not the patient is conscious and breathing The recovery position If the casualty is conscious they should be able to maintain their own airway. But if they’re unconscious the tongue could slip to the back of the throat and interfere with their breathing, or they could vomit and choke. Hopefully you’ll have a mobile phone with you and can get help without leaving them. In this case you can open their airway by tilting their head and lifting the chin and you can observe them closely until help arrives. But if it’s vital that you leave the casualty in order to find help, place them in the recovery position. It will prevent them rolling onto their back and the tongue slipping to the back of the throat.
- Place the arm nearest to you at a right angle to their body, elbow bent with the hand palm-up;
- Take one of the casualty’s hands and hold it against the cheek on the opposite side – right hand to left cheek, for example;
- Use the leg on the same side as the hand as a lever to turn the person over onto their side;
- Adjust the upper leg so that both the hip and knee are bent.
Keep them still Anyone with a suspected neck or back injury should be kept still – movement can cause more damage. It’s OK to leave someone on their back if they are conscious, as they can tell you if they’re going to be sick. But aim to minimise movement until help arrives by immobilising the head. Place your hands on either side of the head and keep talking to them, to reassure them and encourage them to stay still. Of course, if the rider hasn’t fallen far and they don’t have any pain, numbness or dizziness it should be OK for them to get up. But after any fall, it’s wise for someone to lie still for a while and get up slowly – getting up too quickly can result in dizziness.
Contributor: Kay Paterson, Medi-K First Aid. Kay was an ambulance technician and paramedic before setting up her own business training people in first-aid skills. She has been a keen rider for 25 years and owns a 16hh Appaloosa gelding.
Interested in taking a first aid course? Kay offers first-aid courses through her company Medi-K and the focus is on injuries most likely to be sustained when riding or being around horses. As well as improving your knowledge and skills, you will also gain a nationally recognised qualification. A one day course will result in an Emergency First Aid Certificate, while successfully completing the three-day course will equip you with the First Aid at Work, which is required for people employed in the horse industry and for some equine examinations. To find out more, visit: www.medi-k.co.uk or tel: (01299) 407097