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The need for emergency life support

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

The need for emergency life support "Emergency Life Support" describes the essential knowledge and skills needed in a life-threatening emergency. This may be for a threatened heart attack, sudden collapse, severe bleeding or choking. You should know how to get an ambulance or other medical assistance wherever you are. To live we need to have a regular supply of oxygen to all parts of our body. In particular the brain will become severely damaged if it is deprived of oxygen for more than a few minutes. To keep the brain supplied with oxygen three things are essential: A An open and clear AIRWAY through which air, containing oxygen, can pass to the lungs. B BREATHING - a process which delivers air into the lungs where oxygen can enter the blood stream. C A CIRCULATION which requires a pumping heart together with sufficient blood in the blood vessels to carry oxygen from the lungs round the body. Resuscitation is the term used for the emergency treatment needed to overcome the failure of one or all of these functions. It may consist simply of opening the airway and turning an unconscious casualty onto his side or it may mean breathing into the casualty's lungs or pressing on the chest to make blood circulate round the body. This document should help provide you with sufficient knowledge and confidence to give emergency treatment if the need arises. Approach and assessment Remember - seconds count Danger Approach with care, making sure that there is no continuing danger either to yourself or the casualty. Be aware of hazards from electricity, gas, traffic, masonry, etc. Response Assess whether or not the casualty is conscious. Carefully shake his shoulders and ask loudly "What's happened?" or "Are you all right?" or give a command such as "Open your eyes". An unconscious casualty will not respond. Shout for help If someone else is nearby ask him to wait as you might need his assistance. ...read more.

Middle

If the casualty is a baby you may be able to carry him with you and continue breathing for him. Give up to 5 initial rescue breaths (so that at least 2 are effective) in the way described below. Take a breath yourself between each one. Circulation Check for signs of a circulation as in an adult looking for breathing, coughing or movement. If there are no signs of a circulation, or you are at all unsure, you will need to start chest compression, as described below. Take no more than 10 seconds to do this. Rescue breathing For a child, rescue breathing is performed as in an adult but you will not need to blow so hard - just enough to make the child's chest rise as though he were taking a deep breath for himself. For a baby, it is easier to put your mouth over his mouth and nose together and blow just hard enough to make the chest move as though he was taking a deep breath for himself. Give up to 5 breaths, trying to make the chest rise each time. If you have difficulty with the rescue breaths, recheck the mouth and head position. If, after 5 attempts, you have still not been successful in achieving any effective breath, it is likely he has choked and you will need to treat him as described in choking below. Chest compression To perform chest compression on a child, find the lower half of the breastbone exactly as on an adult. For an older child, use 2 hands to perform chest compression. For a younger child, one hand will provide enough pressure. Each compression should depress the breastbone about one third to one half of the depth of the chest. To perform chest compression on a baby, imagine a line joining the nipples and measure one finger's width below this line. ...read more.

Conclusion

This procedure is widely portrayed in films and medically orientated television dramas. It must be performed within a very few minutes of the start of ventricular fibrillation if it is going to succeed. CPR by itself is unlikely to restart a heart that has stopped. At best it is considered a "holding measure" until more advanced treatment is possible. CPR will buy time until a defibrillator can be brought to the casualty, but unless it is started within the first few minutes after cardiac arrest very few victims survive even when defibrillation is carried out later. Until recently, the use of defibrillators required considerable training and skill, but the introduction of the automated external defibrillator (AED) has meant that defibrillation can now be carried out by trained first aid personnel and other lay responders. All that is required is the ability to recognise that cardiac arrest may have occurred and to attach two adhesive electrode pads to the chest wall. Audible voice prompts and visual instructions then guide the operator through the rest of the defibrillation procedure. AEDs are increasingly being provided in venues where large numbers of the public congregate like airports, railway stations, sports grounds and shopping complexes. The intention is that they should be operated by lay personnel, often security staff or other trained workers at the site. The UK Government has recently launched a major initiative to provide defibrillators at different public locations throughout England, and these will be installed during the years 2000 and 2001. The average citizen may soon not only be able to provide CPR to keep alive a victim of sudden cardiopulmonary arrest, but may also be able to carry out definitive life saving treatment by using an AED. These notes can be used to revise the basic principles of emergency life support. However, resuscitation skills require frequent practice on a specially designed training manikin. Rescue breathing and chest compression must never be practised on another person but only on a manikin. ...read more.

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