There is nothing worse than seeing a child hurt or in need of medical assistance. Although serious mishaps are a rare occurrence, toddlers are curious and adventurous as they begin their exploration of the world, and accidents are bound to happen. It helps to be prepared.
Coping in an emergency
Trained medical personnel may not be able to reach the scene of accident in time when an injuries or medical emergencies occur. The difference between life and death may depend on how the situation is handled by those who are first at the scene. This relies heavily on how quick basic life support has been given and also whether anyone on the scene can assess the situation and follow the correct procedures.
If you are the first person on the scene, you are going to have to take charge immediately. Time is critical, so you will have to remain calm and determine what the priorities are. As soon as possible, establish what happened, who many persons are injured, is everyone free from danger and is medical assistance necessary.
The ‘SAFE’ approach is an easy to remember acronym that summarizes the correct sequence to follow when dealing with an emergency.
S: Shout for help: call for medical and emergency assistance
A: Approach with care: ensure there are no hazards that may be a danger to you
F: Free from danger: Although it is recommended that casualties are not moved, if there are obvious risks involved, the safety of the injured child becomes the priority
E: Evaluate: assess vital functions. Check the child’s responsiveness, airways and breathing and also check if there is bleeding and try to control it with pressure
If a child does not respond to you, you will need to establish whether he or she is conscious and breathing. An injured child may also progress from consciousness to unconsciousness. The following signs are a cause for concern as it indicates that the child is not fully conscious:
- Drowsy or difficulty getting up
- Disorientation. The child is unable to answer basic questions such as what is his or her name, what day it is etc.
- Slurred speech
If the child has stopped breathing and is showing no signs of life, you will have to begin with CPR immediately.
Neck and spinal injuries
The general rule is that casualties should not be moved because this could risk aggravating a possible spinal injury. It is difficult to detect whether a child has sustained neck or spinal injuries and any attempts made to move the child could be detrimental to the condition. If there is reason to suspect that there is neck or spinal injury, ensure that the child lies still on a flat surface. The head and neck should be aligned in a neutral position.
Bear in mind that, if the child is in any immediate danger, his or her safety takes priority and you will have to move the child to safety.
It is important to call for proper assistance in a situation where the child is unresponsive, having difficulty breathing, suffering from multiple injuries or bleeding heavily, if you suspect the child has ingested toxic substances or of you are uncertain as to why the child has collapsed.
When phoning for assistance it is important to give the correct information. This includes your name, contact details, location, address and a summary of what has happened.
The value of undergoing a basic CPR course is priceless. In order for first aid procedures to be effective, they must adhere to certain rules and be performed in sequence. Having practical knowledge and experience in this could go a long way when dealing with a case of emergency.
It also helps to have a first aid kit handy at home and in your vehicle. You can purchase ready-made kits, however it may be a good idea to make some adjustments or make up your own first aid kit that takes into account the specific requirements of your family.