Assessing Injuries During A Disaster
Depending on the severity of a disaster, you could be
confronted in a whole range of injuries among members of your family or the
people in your neighborhood. Earthquakes, tornadoes, terrorism, or hurricanes can cause sometimes serious damage to people and pets. Disasters that strike quickly, like
earthquakes, tsunamis, or tornadoes will generally move on quickly, too,
leaving you with the opportunity to begin first aid immediately. The first thing to do is to asses yourself,
to see if you have been injured in any way, and if you are basically unharmed,
you can check on members of your family.
Sort Out The Injuries
You might have already heard or read of triage, and it
simply is a French word that means ‘sorting’.
It is often used during disasters to make sure that those who are most
seriously harmed will get treatment first.
If you have become familiar with basic first aid procedures from the
manual in your first aid kit, or have purchased other books dealing with this,
you will have a background in how to assess and treat injuries. Remember that during a disaster some people
will be very afraid and will panic, and can make a good deal of noise even if
they have received only a very minor injury.
You should look beyond the sound effects to make a reasoned judgement as
to the extent of injuries.
The Big Three
During and after a disaster has occurred, you should watch
out for the three largest killers: shock, airway obstruction, and bleeding. If someone in your family is not breathing,
perform the head tilt-chin lift immediately to attempt to open up the
airways. If this does not work, you will
have to ‘breathe’ for the person and perform CPR until emergency medical
Shock is a condition whereby the body begins to shut
down. It is often caused by excessive
bleeding, but a severe blow to the head or any part of the body can also cause
it. If bleeding is the cause, do
everything possible to stop the flow of blood.
Regardless of the cause, however, the victim should be placed on their
back with the legs elevated about 10 inches above the head. Loosen clothing so there will be no
interference with circulation and cover the person with a blanket. Hospital care will be needed to deal
completely with the condition.
When presented with bleeding, you will find that there are
basically 3 kinds: capillary bleeding is caused by damage to the capillaries
and is not serious; venous bleeding can be heavy, but is not usually life
threatening, however it should be tended to as soon as possible; arterial
bleeding is the most serious and can result in exsanguination if
untreated. When treating arterial
bleeding, elevate the affected limb above the level of the head and apply
pressure to the wound. If Celox or
another clotting agent is available, use it immediately. If you are unable to slow the bleeding, apply
a tourniquet. This should only be done
if the victim would die otherwise as it can result in the loss of the limb from
You can use almost any material at hand to make a splint for
a broken limb or digit. Magazines and
cardboard can be used, and strips of cloth tied around to hold the splint in
place. Do not attempt to set the broken
bone yourself. If the bone has broken
through the skin, do not try to push it back in, simply cover it with a gauze
pad, tape the pad in place, and splint as you would for any other fracture. For all of these and more, your safest bet in protecting you and your family is to supply yourself with a well built first aid kit.