What to do in an Emergency?
Dealing with concussion or a head injury
If someone has suffered a head injury they may be confused. People often come round after a bang on their head and insist they are fine. Do your best to assess whether there’s a problem and then use your powers of communication to encourage them to stay still. Call 999 and reassure them. Protect them from the elements and keep them warm.
Boost blood sugar levels
Often, riders don’t eat properly if they go to a show, on a sponsored ride or for a day’s hunting and may miss out a meal – or two – because of nerves or not having access to food. This can result in blood sugar levels dropping, leaving them feeling dizzy or faint. On a hot day it could lead to the rider feeling disoriented, which is particularly dangerous if they are planning to drive the lorry home. It’s something that can affect diabetics in particular, but could happen to anyone. Restore blood sugar levels with a sugary drink, biscuit or dextrose tablets. But this is a short-term fix and you must have a proper, balanced meal as soon as possible. Try and be disciplined to eat some breakfast or a healthy snack, such as a banana, if you can’t face a lot of food. And always remember to take in plenty of fluids.
Help someone who is choking
Choking is an issue you could encounter anywhere, so it’s useful to know what to do. It can be caused by someone eating in a hurry, or talking at the same time as eating, and a piece of food becoming lodged in the windpipe. Here’s what to do:-
- Tilt the person choking forward and slap them firmly between the shoulder blades five times, in a bid to dislodge the blockage; If that doesn’t work, you’ll need to perform abdominal thrusts.
- Place your hands between the belly button and the bottom of the rib cage and form a fist or interlock your fingers;
- Pull in and up five times, to force air up the windpipe. If the blockage still exists, do three sets of blows and thrusts. If this doesn’t work, call an ambulance.
Dealing with wounds
If someone suffers a nasty cut, you need to stem the bleeding and clean the wound, but you also need to be aware that the injured person could go into shock. The best thing to use to clean a wound is dampened gauze or a sterile wipe. Do not use cotton wool, which can contaminate the wound with fibres. If you don’t have anything sterile to hand, it’s better not to attempt to clean the wound. If the casualty is bleeding heavily, cover the wound with a dressing and bandage – some bandages come with dressing already inside, and are easier to apply. As long as there isn’t a foreign body in the wound, apply firm pressure with the bandage in a bid to stem the bleeding. You can apply further pressure using your hand to encourage clotting, or raise the arm (see bandaging). Another bandage may be required on top if blood is seeping through. A casualty that’s walking and talking can be taken to casualty – they may even be OK to get there under their own steam. But if the bleeding is extensive, you may want to call 999. If you think the casualty is going into shock, follow the tips below. CLICK HERE FOR WHATS IN THE FIRST AID KIT
Caring for someone in shock
Signs that a casualty is going into shock are:- • They are shaking; • Their skin has gone pale and cold; • It feels clammy to the touch; • They feel sick and thirsty; • They have a fast heart rate. All of these symptoms are triggered by a lack of circulating blood volume, which can be caused by a nasty cut, for example. Blood carries oxygen and if it isn’t circulating around the body, oxygen can’t get to where it’s needed. Keep a person in shock warm – they will feel cold because of blood vessels narrowing. Sit them down, or if you think they are going to become unconscious, get them to lie on the floor – the rule is to get them down before they fall down. Whether they are sitting or lying down, raise their feet to try and improve blood flow to the vital organs.
A nasty kick to the chest or stomach could result in internal bleeding, although the casualty may have no external signs of injury. Internal bleeding should be suspected if someone is in a lot of pain and goes into shock. Anticipate that they may pass out, especially if they are showing signs of dizziness or disorientation. As with shock, lie them down and raise the legs. If they do pass out, put them in the recovery position and place a blanket over them to keep them warm. Do not press the person’s stomach to try and assess the extent of injury as this could cause more damage. If they are in pain, fear the worst and call an ambulance or get them to hospital as soon as possible, where an ultrasound examination can be carried out.
How to tie a sling
Being able to tie a sling is a handy skill. Slings are useful to support an injured arm, for example if you suspect it’s broken, or to elevate a limb in a bid to stem bleeding. To support and mobilise the limb:
- Place a bandage across the body, with the point of the triangle under the elbow of the injured arm and one end over the opposite shoulder;
- Take the other end of the bandage over the opposite shoulder and tie the ends behind the casualty’s neck;
- Tuck in the bandage at the elbow; To elevate an arm:
- Place the injured arm across the person’s chest and put their hand on the opposite shoulder;
- Put a triangular bandage across the body and tie the two ends at the back; If you don’t have a triangular bandage you can improvise, for example by tucking the arm into a button-up top or using a tie or even a tail bandage.
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