Party time first aid

It’s that time of year again when thousands of people will be enjoying the festive party season at family and work events. Our Operations and Policy Director Jim Dorman offers some practical first aid and safety advice to help keep the festivities free from emergencies.

Sprains and strains

Normally, we can expect the weather to be cold in December and the paths can be icy – this increases the danger of people slipping and spraining an ankle or worse breaking a limb. Also, those who like to wear high-heeled shoes are adding to their chances of being injured and should consider wearing more appropriate footwear outdoors if they have longer distances to walk. If someone has a sprain or a strain, provide the following treatment:

  • Help them to sit down and support their injury in a raised position.
  • Apply something cold to the injured area, leave it on for no more than ten minutes.
  • Wrap some soft padding around the injury and secure it with a support bandage which should go up as far as the next joint on each side.
  • Raise the injured part and rest it on something soft. Encourage them to rest.
  • Arrange to get them to hospital if the pain is severe.

Cuts and grazes

If the person has fallen and has cut or grazed themselves, follow these steps to treat the wound:

  • Clean the injury under cold running water or with alcohol-free wipes.
  • Gently dry the cut or graze and cover with a sterile gauze or a clean, non-fluffy cloth.
  • Support the injured area and if needed apply pressure to stop it bleeding.
  • Remove the cloth or gauze cover the injury with a sterile dressing or plaster.
  • Encourage them to see a nurse or doctor if you think there’s a risk of an infection or there is something embedded in it.

Concussion

Sometimes if someone has had too much to drink or it is icy, they may be unsteady on their feet and even fall. If someone has had too much alcohol, it can make it hard to assess the severity of their symptoms. If they hit their head and they are drunk; they should be seen by a doctor. If you are concerned at all, call an ambulance immediately.

Recovery position

If a person has collapsed because they’ve drunk too much; first check their breathing and then put them into the recovery position to keep their airway clear. It is important that someone stays with them, especially if they are vomiting. Here’s how to put someone into the recovery position:

  • Kneel down on the floor next to the casualty.
  • Place their arm nearest you away from their body with their palm facing upwards.
  • Take their other hand and place it against their face on their cheek nearest you, keep holding it there.
  • Lift their far knee with your other hand and pull it up until their foot is flat on the floor. Roll them towards you by carefully pulling on their bent knee.
  • Make sure that their airway will is open and clear by tilting their head back.

Hypothermia

If someone is drunk; it can be harder for them to maintain their body temperature and they can quickly become hypothermic. If they are outside, try and move them indoors or at least keep them warm with a jacket or blanket. Keep checking their breathing and keep their airway clear if they are vomiting.

Choking

Choking can occur at any time, especially when those festive party treats are in abundance. If someone does start to choke suddenly, you need to first assess the severity of the obstruction:

  • Ask the casualty: “Are you choking?”
  • If they can cough or speak, encourage them to keep coughing to try and dislodge the object.
  • If they cannot cough or speak, the obstruction is severe and you need to deliver up to five firm back blows using the heel of your hand between their shoulder blades.
  • Keep checking to see if the object has cleared.

If the back blows don’t work, try giving them up to five abdominal thrusts by standing behind them, link your hands between their belly button and the bottom of their breastbone, your lower hand must be clenched in a fist. Pull inwards and upwards sharply.

  • Call 999 or 112 for an ambulance if they are still choking.
  • Keep repeating the back blows and abdominal thrusts until the emergency services arrive.

Personal safety tips

  • Keep watching your drink, don’t leave it unattended. Reports of drinks being spiked are becoming all too common.
  • Book a reputable taxi in advance to collect you from the party.
  • Avoid driving the next day if you had too much to drink the night before.

Have a happy and safe festive period from all of us at St Andrew’s First Aid!

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