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Life Saving Techniques: Survival Essentials

Got your emergency survival kit with food and water ready? 

You are well prepared and kudos to you for practicing safety! But another survival must is to know what to do when a person is hurt. Emergency Response workers may arrive soon, but in the meantime, a person with first aid knowledge could save a life.

The formal definition of first aid is, “assistance given to a sick or injured person to preserve life, preventing the condition from worsening, and promoting recovery.” A first aider’s job is to keep the affected person stable.


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When dealing with someone experiencing cardiac arrest, first aiders begin with the lifesaving approach of compressions, airway, and breathing (CAB). This mnemonic is used by all emergency health professionals as of 2010. Updated from the 40-year-old traditional version of airways, breathing, and circulation (ABC), the CAB approach allows for promptly administered chest compressions during a cardiac event. By pumping blood to the victim’s brain and heart sooner with hands-only chest compressions instead of using 30 seconds to clear the airways first, more lives have been saved. The updated American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines state, “compressions should be started immediately on anyone who is unresponsive and not breathing normally.” This applies to adults, children, and infants. It does not apply to newborns.


CPR is a crucial skill

Tourniquets used in war times proved to be helpful in some situations when applied quickly and left on for a short time. In most circumstances, if a tourniquet is needed before a wounded person can receive hospital care, one can be purchased. A commercial-grade tourniquet is recommended as opposed to an improvised device. It is safer. However, if a store-bought tourniquet is not available and help is needed before hospital care can be provided, the following approach has proven effective in many instances. First, elevate the limb and apply direct pressure with a dressing. Next, pack the wound, use the Windlass Technique, and apply indirect pressure. Last, use the tourniquet. The Windlass Technique is a force of direct pressure from a pen (or similar object) twisted under a knot placed over dressings and a bandage pressed onto the wound.  This approach should only be administered in the direst of situations when there is no other choice.    

The Heimlich maneuver has helped many restaurant patrons over the years. It has also saved the lives of countless others outside of eating establishments. 

When someone is choking, they may look dazed. They may point to their throat and cease talking. They are panicking and need help immediately. The first thing to do is talk to them. Calmly tell them what you are going to do. Then begin. To dislodge the item from their air passageway, the person administering the help should stand behind the choking victim with one foot slightly in front. This provides balance. Next, wrap your arms around the choking victim’s waist as if hugging them and make a fist and place it slightly above the adult choking victim’s belly button. Then, make 6 to 10 upward thrusts into the abdomen until the item dislodges. If you are working with a child, kneel behind them.

Learning first aid in school can provide many more qualified people to help others in the world. In rural areas, modern areas, in wartime, or peace, first aid is a survival essential. 

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