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Spinal Injuries And How To Respond To Them

The Emergency

You stumble upon an individual on the ground and there is a ladder that has fallen nearby.

Spinal Injruy

You come across a casualty that could have a spinal injury. Would you know what to do?

What To Do? Check the Scene and the Casualty

As a first aider, what can you do to help this person?  The first and most important thing to do is to ensure that the scene is safe for you to enter, remember no fire, no wire, no gas, no glass.  This step is very important to ensure your safety and once you ensure that the scene is safe you should assess the patient, but what do you do first?  You approach the patient within their line of vision so as not to startle them and establish whether they are conscious or not.  You can do this by asking them if they are awake and if they can hear you and by squeezing their trapeziums.

Contacting EMS

If you do not get a response from them then you must call your local emergency number (usually 911) and inform them of the patients condition.

Time to Help!

Check for a pulse and for breathing, for their pulse check for the radial pulse(on the wrist) or the carotid artery in their neck.  For breathing, look at their chest for rise and fall put your cheek next to their mouth and feel for breath as well as listening for breath sounds.  If you do not find the patients pulse then begin CPR, remember push hard and push fast, seek 2 inches of compression on the chest and if possible update local emergency services.  The reason that you update emergency services is that they will prioritize your call based on the symptoms that they are aware of so any updates should be passed on to them.  If you find a pulse and a breath rate then DO NOT move the patient as you could cause more spinal damage unless you are trained and have a spinal board nearby. if the patient is vomiting and they are on their back then the vomit will block their airway and cause them to suffocate and you should put them in the recovery position.  The reason you move the patient if they are vomiting and risk further spinal damage is that their life is more important than the risk of spinal injury.  It is important to prioritize your treatment of patient and pulse and breathing are both huge priorities and are more important than the prevention of spinal injuries.  Once breathing and pulse is established it is time to look for deadly bleeding and this means a rapid pat down from head to knee.  If you find particularly warm areas or you notice discoloration of the skin then take a note of it and keep checking the rest of the body and update emergency medical services based on what you find.  Always remember to use your personal protective equipment.

 Watch This Video to Learn More

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