Providing First Aid for People with Hearing Problems
In order for you to provide first aid, you have to develop rapport with the victim. At times, providing first aid for people with special needs can be challenging. Read on to learn more about how to care for a deaf patient.
In order to provide accurate and efficient first aid, you have to gather as much information about the victim. However, in some cases, language becomes a barrier for effective first aid treatment. If you are unable to get the much needed information, you may be unable to properly assess the victim. You may think that the victim is incoherent or is unable to understand. You can also miss out on important symptoms, such as pain, uneasy feeling, headache, and so on.
People with special needs, such as those with hearing disabilities, pose a challenge to first aid. There is a communication gap that may lead to faulty assessment or inappropriate treatment. It is rather unfortunate that many first aiders have little experience communicating with the deaf. Moreover, not everyone is trained at how to effectively communicate to them. A sad reality is that even though there are millions deaf people in our country, and many more with hearing problems, only very few have the skills to talk to these special population.
Rarely can you find a deaf person embarrassed about his handicap. Usually, it is the person talking to the deaf who feels some sort of embarrassment. Even experienced first aiders and emergency service personnel find themselves uneasy when attempting to communicate with the deaf. This embarrassment may come from the attempt to do something totally new or something one cannot do well. It may also be due to a guilt feeling, as if you have caused the person to become deaf. When providing first aid to the deaf, you have to be open to overcome the communication barrier.
Remember that even people with normal hearing may be unable to hear due to the accident or trauma. In most cases, a deaf patient will try to signal to you that he is deaf, usually by pointing to the ears and shaking his hand or head to indicate, “I cannot hear you.” If you are unsure, spell out on a piece of paper “Are you deaf?”
There are different ways of communicating with the deaf. If the victim can read, you can write down what you want to say. Use questions that are answerable by ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to facilitate quick communication.
Some deaf people are able to read lips. When talking to them through lip reading, make sure that your face is in bright light and speak slowly. Keep your sentences short and emphasize important words. Before doing any treatment or examination on the victim, point to your body so that he can prepare. Get his attention by gentling patting his shoulder.
Throughout the entire first aid treatment, try to remain face to face and maintain direct contact through touching. This assures the victim you are there to stay and help.