Many people sustain injuries during a disaster situation, just at the very time when it is most difficult, or maybe even impossible and unsafe to attempt to get professional medical assistance. Although the treatment of fractures, dislocation and spinal injuries is definitely something which needs to be done by a professional under normal circumstances, disaster situations are very often far from normal circumstances and you’ve just gotta’ do the best you can.
If you suspect that someone has suffered a broken bone during a disaster and you cannot get expert medical help, this is what you should do;
- If the wound is bleeding, do your best to stop it first of all.
- Immobilize the injury with a splint or similar. Don’t try to push anything back into place, just concentrate on holding it still.
- Ice packs can be applied to help limit the amount of swelling, but don’t put these directly onto the skin, always wrap in a towel or other cloth.
You would need to treat a dislocation in a similar manner. Dislocations can happen quite regularly during a disaster, maybe as the result of an auto accident or other high speed collision. Dislocation can be very painful and will deform a joint often with severe swelling.
- Get expert medical help if possible.
- Immobilize the injury without trying to push the joint back into place . . . you could cause even more damage.
- Put a little ice onto the injured joint to help reduce swelling.
Spinal Injuries are a very serious business, one wrong move can cause untold and irreparable damage . . . unfortunately, if someone has suffered a spinal injury during a disaster it may not be possible to get the medical attention they need as quickly as it is needed. How can you help someone?
- Don’t try to move the person, keep them as still as possible. Use heavy towels or blankets on both sides of the neck and head to prevent any movement.
- If the person is wearing a helmet, leave it where it is . . . never try to remove it, you could cause more damage.
- If the person begins to vomit or choke on blood and must be moved, you ideally need another person to help you to move them. Work together as you roll the person to keep their head, neck and back in alignment.
- Get medical help as soon as possible.