What to do During Public Medical Emergencies

Before the close of the year, en route to a church service, I realized how most of us are clueless when it comes to public medical emergencies. Adjacent to my seat, on the other divide of the bus alley, a middle-aged lady began convulsing and foaming at the corner of her mouth. Her body movements were so violent that she couldn’t remain in her seat. She sprawled to the bus floor and began knocking her head against the metallic seat stands.

All this while, everyone was staring at her as some light-hearted females began screaming at the top of their lungs. Blood began oozing from her mouth as a result of biting herself. Her dress moved up to the level of her waist and we were all filled with shame. An elderly man, through his wisdom I could guess, came and gently held the lady in a manner that she couldn’t injure herself. He signaled two other gentlemen and they aided in keeping her from injury. This happened for about seven minutes and the lady came to. She suffered from epilepsy.

I have never had a guilty conscience as I had that day. With all the humanity, sympathy and empathy I keep preaching, I couldn’t have simply held down the lady till she ceased convulsing. It became my resolve to be versed with actions to take in the future whenever such and equivalent medical emergencies happened in my presence.

First Aid for Epilepsy Seizures

Ideally, there is nothing one can do to stop a seizure but one can help protect a victim from injury during the attack. The focus for an epileptic victim is to keep them safe. When a person is about to get a tonic-clonic seizure, here are the precursor signs:

  • The person seems to check out. They won’t respond when you talk to them, neither would they react when you wave a hand on their faces
  • Their muscles become very rigid and clench.
  • Their bodies begin a series of violent jerking movements. This is where they injure themselves.
  • After a few minutes, the jerking stops but they remain dazed and unsteady for a while.

It is about taking precautions for such an individual:

  • Give them room, keep other people back.
  • Keep them away from hard objects and glasses that may pose danger when they knock against them.
  • Cushion their head for the avoidance of concussions.
  • Loosen the clothing around their necks.
  • Let the seizures come to an end on their own.

One should resort to calling for help when it is a child’s first seizure, when a seizure lasts for more than five minutes or when another seizure begins soon after the first and when the person does not wake up after the jerking has stopped.

First Aid for Breathing Difficulties

This may occur in the events of asthma attacks or allergic reactions also known as anaphylaxis. In the event of unexpected breathing difficulties a way to the medical facility must first be sought during which the following are done:

  • Checking the person’s airway, breathing, and pulse and if necessary begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation [CPR] (rescue breathing process by providing oxygen to the person’s lung by the mouth as well as chest compressions to keep oxygen-rich blood flowing until the heartbeat and breathing can be restored).
  • Loosen any tight attire.
  • Help the person use any prescribed medicine or breathe aiders such as asthma inhaler or home oxygen
  • If there may be open wounds in the neck or chest region, they must be sealed immediately.

Do not in any way give the person food or drink, move the person – let them stay in one position unless it is necessary. Do not also place a pillow or anything under the person’s head as that could close the airway.

First Aid When Someone Collapses/Faints

Fainting is usually a body response to the temporal lack of enough blood supply to the brain. If you faint yourself, lie down or sit down and once seated, place your head between your knees. If someone else faints:

  • Position them on their back and raise their legs above the heart level (30 cm). Loosen any tight clothing. Let the person remain in that state for a while. If the person isn’t breathing, begin CPR – cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

First Aid When Someone Is Severely Bleeding

  • Remove any clothing or debris on the wound, do not remove large or deeply embedded objects.
  • The very first thing to do is not to even clean the wound but to stop the bleeding. Place a sterile bandage or clean cloth on the wound and using the palm, press firmly with constant pressure to control the bleeding. (Do not put direct pressure on an eye injury or embedded object)
  • Help the injured person to lie down and place them on a rug or blanket to prevent loss of heat.
  • In the case where a tourniquet is available, it could be used by a trained individual as it is effective in controlling life-threatening bleeding from limbs.

First Aid When Someone Is Having Heart Attack

The average person waits for about three hours before seeking medical help. The sooner a heart attack patient gets to hospital the better.

  • Have the person sit down, rest and try to keep calm as you loosen any tight clothing.
  • Enquire from any patient on the use of any chest pain medicine such as nitroglycerin for a known heart condition and help them take it.
  • Begin CPR.
  • All these are done as medical help is awaited on.

Do not leave the person alone or allow the person to deny the symptoms or wait for the symptoms to fade away. Do not also give the person anything by mouth unless it is heart medicine.

First Aid When Someone Is In Pain

RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation – the best first aid strategy for painful injuries to muscles, joints and bone injuries.

  • The injured area should be used sparingly for at least 48 hours.
  • Cold pack or ice to the injured area is essential every 20 minutes, four to eight times a day.
  • The injured area should remain in an elastic bandage for compression purposes
  • Whenever possible, the injured area ought to remain elevated higher than the heart

May you not helplessly look at a public medical emergency henceforth.

“Empathy, sympathy and humanity involve stepping into another person’s shoes to gain an understanding of their emotional and physical experience and then conveying our insights to them accordingly.”

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