Friday, November 13, 2009

How to Save a Life

There are lots of ways that professionals save lives. Trauma surgeons can work miracles in the OR. Paramedics have been glorified numerous times on television because they save lives in such dynamic fashion. Police officers often put their lives on the line to save others.
But did you know that there are specific occasions when only a citizen bystander can save a life? There are many times that a person dies right in front of others because there are some circumstances that simply won't wait for paramedics or an emergency room. Here's how you can be the bystander that saves the life of a stranger (or a loved one):
  1. Learn CPR
  2. Learn the Heimlich Maneuver
  3. Learn how to use an AED
  4. Learn basic first aid (bleeding control)
  5. Learn rescue swimming
  • Note that there are only a handful of reasons that people die immediately and need quick assistance from a bystander, these include loss of heart rhythm, loss of blood, and loss of the ability to breathe. Things like choking, heart attack, drowning, and bleeding out from trauma fall into these categories. There are other emergent situations where there is very little you can do such as traumatic brain injuries and massive traumatic injuries.
  • A person who loses their heart rhythm because of heart attack or severe electrical shock, needs immediate CPR. If you wait ten minutes for paramedics to come, the person will be dead. With CPR provided immediately by a bystander, the save rate is actually fairly good.
  • Massive bleeding from things such as stab wounds, gun shot wounds, and other traumatic wounds is another common way to die. Quickly. Loss of blood can be remedied for the moment to give the victim a chance for medical help to arrive with either direct pressure on the wound or a tourniquet applied between the wound and the heart.
  • Loss of breathing can result from choking on something, near drowning, or respiratory arrest. When someone can't breathe, seconds make a difference. If you see a patron choking on something in a restaurant, calling an ambulance is nice, but again, the guy will probably be dead before the ambulance arrives unless someone knows how to do the Heimlich Maneuver. Also note that when someone is drowning, other then in extreme cold water drowning incidents, there is no time to wait for a dive team to rescue someone. Generally dive teams are used for recovery, not rescue.
Take the opportunity to learn the basic, critical life saving skills that can literally make a life and death difference in someones life.

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