Monday, 16 September 2013

Who ya gonna call?

A couple of reports earlier this year have found that a) we are normally never more than six foot away from our mobiles and also that we suffer withdrawal symptoms if we are parted from it for too long.

Whilst this smacks of a Society that is increasingly dependent upon, nay, addicted to mobile 'phones, it does have an advantage in that should you be unexpectedly knocked unconscious, the Emergency Services can get hold of someone to call - 'Mum', 'Dad', 'Aunty Maude' for example. Brilliant.

Whoah, hang on a minute. "I've password protected my phone", "I'm an orphan and my parents never had any siblings". OK, the latter is rare, but with concerns about privacy, the former should be adopted by one and all.

Quick aside. Have you switched on tracking on your Apple device? Cool, huh. If it gets nicked, you can track it, lock it and wipe it. That'll teach them. No it won't unless you have also password protected the whole device. Otherwise, savvy thieves will go straight to 'settings' and turn tracking off. IPad lost forever. If you haven't password protected your Apple Device, do it now. It's not foolproof, by the way, but a lot better than an unprotected device.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Dialling for help.Here's some stuff that you should know.

1.  ICE (In Case of Emergency).
Dreamt up by a Paramedic, it's amazingly simple. Pick someone that you want to be contacted if you have an emergency and are incapable of communicating your wishes. In your 'phone address book, create a new contact with the name "ICE". Add the contact details to the ICE contact. More than one Contact - use ICE2, ICE3 etc.

Do it. Now.

2. Getting around Phone locks. ICE is all well and good, but what if you lock your 'phone? Luckily Manufacturers are cottoning on. Here are some developments that I am aware of. Feel free to add to the list.

  • Many device manufacturers have provided a mechanism to specify some text to be displayed while the mobile is in the locked state.
  • Some devices let the owner of the phone specify their "In Case of Emergency" contact and also a "Lost and Found" contact. For example, BlackBerry mobiles permit the "Owner" information to be set in the Settings → Options → Owner menu item (source: Wikipedia)
  • IPhone.  You can download apps that can create a iPhone lock screen with emergency details, e.g. "Emergency Info Screen" app
  • IPhone with Siri. Siri works even if the 'phone is locked. Press and hold the button to activate Siri, then say "Siri. Call ICE"
  • Galaxy S3. When the screen is locked there is the option to make an emergency call. If you press that the key pad comes up so you can dial 999. On the bottom left is an icon that looks like a person with a light bulb. If you press this it shows you the group of people who you have assigned as your ICE contacts (SG on Facebook - thanks. Contact me if you want a full credit)
  • Galaxy S3 (again) You can go into settings-lock screen-user information and type in a message there. I now have my name and emergency contract number scroll across the screen when it's locked! (SG again)
  • Nokia & Windows. This would work for all others as well. TYPE "ICE" plus your number into a Word Processor. Photograph it. Set the photograph as your screensaver.
That's my list so far. If you can come up with any others, do let me know.

Monday, 29 July 2013

The Good Samaritan Act et al - Hit or Myth?


In true QI fashion, it's time to clear up a few beliefs about First Aid. Some are true, others not so.

Disclaimer: These are all as I understand them and if anyone has any up to date information, do let me know. Do not treat this as secular Gospel, it's just as I read it and teach it, but no-one's perfict at the end of the day. Oh, and if you live outside the UK, move on - nothing to see here. You're on your own.

  • The Good Samaritan Act
  • Why do First Aid courses teach Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) when Vinnine Jones is on TV telling us to just do chest compressions?
  • If I do mouth to mouth, will I catch HIV or something else?
  • CPR will bring a heart back to life
  • A defibrillator restarts the heart
  • You must be trained to use a Defibrillator

The Good Samaritan Act.

"If I do something wrong, the Good Samaritan Act will cover me".

The bad news. There is no such thing as the Good Samaritan Act.

The good news. If you treat a casualty, staying within the bounds of your skill set and do what you think is in the best interest of the patient, then no challenge will be upheld in Court.

Think about it for a minute. You, as a First Aider, treat a random person in the street. They have had a Cardiac Arrest. You are trained in CPR, which you commence. As you undertake CPR, you hear a rib or two crack, as does the spouse of the patient. Six minutes later, you hand over to an ambulance crew. The patient dies, despite all your efforts. The spouse then sues you for breaking a rib that may have killed the patient. (Compensashun Culture). What will happen in Court?

The case will be thrown out.

  1. You were acting within your training
  2. Ribs break. I've broken hundreds over the years. Especially in the elderly. You just carry on.
  3. They are pretty unlikely to have pierced a lung
  4. and, so what? Before you started, the patient was dead. International advice is to commence CPR, which you did, textbook style. Your actions gave that patient the best possible chance of survival
The Chain of Survival

If the Court prosecutes you for this, that will be the last time that anyone tries to save someone else's life. It's not going to happen and the case will be thrown out.

For someone to have any legal case they must first prove that your actions made the situation worse. When dealing with life threatening situations such as resuscitation, where someone who is left will certainly die, it is inconceivable how anyone could make the situation worse than it already is.

Of course, if you start attempting Thoracotomies with pen tops and straws, then you're on your own.

Why do First Aid courses teach Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) when Vinnine Jones is on TV telling us to just do chest compressions?

Studies have found that lay people attempting resuscitation are a bit squeamish about mouth to mouth on strangers and that they often choose to do nothing at all.

By teaching lay members of the public to do chest compressions only, this is better than no effort.
Obviously CPR is the ideal treatment for a cardiac arrest but chest only compression is better than doing nothing. If we teach you full CPR, then you have the choice.

You have watched the video, haven't you?

If I do mouth to mouth, will I catch HIV or something else?

As far as I am aware, no-one has ever caught HIV from Mouth-to-Mouth. You need to be sensible with precautions and if either you or the patient has cuts, you may need to weigh up the situation and use a mask or the Vinnie Jones approach. The risk of catching HIV from exchange of saliva alone is very, very small.

CPR will bring a heart back to life.

Very unlikely. Sure, if you Google it, I'm sure that you will find cases of CPR having this effect, but I wouldn't bank on it. (If you come on one of my First Aid courses, I'll tell you about the time that I disproved this rule!) When a heart stops, the patient stops breathing in Oxygen and the heart stops pumping this around the body. Body parts that need oxygen will soon use up what's left in the bloodstream then start to die. By simulating the breathing and the heart pumping, you can buy the patient time for the ambulance crews or First Responders to arrive with their defibrillators.

A defibrillator restarts the heart.

A heart is made of muscles. The muscles contract in a regular pattern to squeeze the blood out round the body. The rate of contraction is all controlled by a 'pacemaker' called the 'Sino Atrial Node', which 'beats' at your natural heart rate.
If the heart muscles start to ignore this pacemaker, they will start firing off at their own pace and anarchy will result. Without co-ordinated contractions, blood will not be pumped.

All this works on electricity. A Defibrillator sends a massive bolt of electricity through the heart causing all the individual muscles to stop beating. After a pause, the natural pacemaker takes over again and all the rest of the muscles follow in a nice, natural beat.

So, a Defibrillator actually STOPS the heart. Now you know.

Note, there are situations where a defibrillator is ineffective and may need repeated attempts. There are also situations where it is unable to shock.

You must be trained to use a Defibrillator

Absolutely not. End of. Yes, it's nice to be trained but the Resus Council specifically states that anyone should be able to pick up a defibrillator and use it.
  • It talks to you, telling you exactly what to do and when.
  • The pads have pretty pictures on them so you know where to put them
  • Most Defibrillators only have one button and they tell you when to push it.
  • They will not let you shock someone inappropriately
Trust me. If you are ever with someone that has had a Cardiac Arrest and there is a Defibrillator nearby, get it and use it. You will not kill them. Yo will not make them worse off. You might just save their life.

Look for the sign and give it a go. I have handed my defibrillator to Adults, and to Scouts with no prior training and they quickly sussed it.

Any Questions? Any feedback?

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Hello, Good Evening and Welcome

Welcome to the inaugural Post.

First Aid Buzz is linked in with 4 Minutes First Aid Training Services, which provides (funnily enough) First Aid Training in and around Berkshire.

What's there to read?

  • Changes in First Aid Legislation and practice
  • Health & Safety Executive changes
  • Lighter articles by myself
  • Anything else that I think relevant and that you will find interesting to read

As with my other Blogs, I am open to feedback, both positive and negative and as long as it isn't spam, it will get published.