After the carnage that resulted in the bombing at the Boston Marathon yesterday, I started thinking about what I would have done if I were there. There were some truly horrific injuries that went beyond just basic first aid.
How would you react if you saw people with shrapnel injuries or amputation injuries? Here are a few tips to keep in mind, just in case you are in this type of situation one day.
1. Check to see if the person is breathing. When there is a serious injury, it is easy to focus on the blood. But if the person isn’t breathing, that needs to be handled first. Then you can tend to the injury.
2. Immobilize the injury. Don’t try to set a broken bone; just keep it from moving any more than it already has. Unless you are a medical expert, you could make an injury worse by trying to fix it. By immobilizing it, you can keep it from getting worse until medical help can take over.
3. Apply gentle pressure to the wound. A serious wound can result in the person bleeding to death unless you can slow or stop the bleeding. In some cases, you may need to use a tourniquet, but it is important that it be done correctly.
To learn how to apply a tourniquet correctly, watch this video from The Survival Doctor, Dr. Hubbard.
4. Treat the person for shock. Have the person lay down and elevate the legs if they are not injured. Many of the injuries at the Boston Marathon were leg injuries, so this may not have been an option. Make sure you keep the person warm.
5. Get medical help ASAP. Even very severely injured people can survive if the injury is treated quickly, ideally within an hour of the injury. Beyond that time, a person’s chance of survival decreases.