What to do if someone’s not breathing
- Establish whether or not a casualty is conscious and breathing by talking to them – say ‘Hello, can you hear me,’ for example – and by putting pressure on their shoulders. When you’ve ascertained they’re unconscious, open and maintain their airway – tilt their head and lift their chin to move the tongue from the back of their throat.
- Open their mouth, too, and check there’s nothing in it – but if there is, don’t put your fingers in or you could be badly bitten. If you see something, you’ve got to hope it will become dislodged, although you could tilt the head to one side in the hope it tips out.
- Then, look, listen and feel for breathing. Put your cheek close to the casualty’s mouth to feel for breath, listen for any breathing noises and watch for the rise and fall of the chest.
- Make these observations for up to 10 seconds. If they are not breathing, call an ambulance.
- If it’s an adult casualty, you can then start to perform chest compressions:-
- Place your hands in the centre of their chest (along what would be the male nipple line);
- Keeping your arms straight, use the heels of your hands to apply pressure.
- Make 30 compressions, to a depth of a third of the chest and at a rate of 100-120 per minute, in a bid to pump blood around the body.
- Pinch the nose, and take a breath and place your lips around their mouth and blow steadily into their mouth and repeat once more, whilst maintaining an open airway;
- Repeat 30 compressions and 2 breaths until the ambulance arrives, your casualty recovers or you become are too exhausted to carry on.
First Aid DO’s and DON’TS
- Don’t move the casualty if you suspect a head or neck injury;
- Do leave their riding hat on;
- Don’t remove a body protector, unless it is impeding breathing. Breathing takes precedence over everything else.
- Do attend to the human patient before the horse, unless it is causing a danger to the injured person, or to others. If horse has put his head down and is eating grass, leave him and go to the injured rider’s aid.
- Don’t use cotton wool to clean a wound;
- Do protect the casualty from further injury – for example, if they’ve had a fall on or near a busy road;
- Don’t let them eat or drink if you suspect broken bones, in case they need an operation.
- Do go on a first aid course to improve your knowledge. It could save a life.
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