Injuries to the head should always be treated seriously as there may be damage to the brain. Sometimes this damage may not be evident for hours after the injury occurs.
Head injuries such as concussion, brain compression, and skull fracture are difficult for a first aider to determine, and therefore all head injuries should be treated in the same way.
Symptoms and signs – Not all may be present
- altered conscious state, often deteriorating over time
- blurred or double vision
- a thumping or pounding headache
- nausea or vomiting
- loss of balance and coordination
- altered sensation in the fingers or down one side of the body
- loss of short-term memory – e.g. recent events
- noisy breathing
- leaking fluid from the nose or one ear
- history of a blow to the head
How you can help
1. Assess the patient
- Assess the patient’s conscious state.
- If not fully conscious, place the patient on the side in a supported position.
- Check that the airway is clear and for signs of life every few minutes.
- If conscious, help the patient to rest in the position of greatest comfort.
- Sometimes patients with head injury may become agitated. Enlist friends or family to calm and reassure the patient. Consider calling the police if the safety of the patient or others becomes threatened.
Call 111 for an ambulance.
2. Give care until arrival of the ambulance
- Cover any wound with a sterile dressing.
- If there is any discharge from the ears or nose, cover the area with a sterile dressing.
DO NOT pack the ears or nose with dressings.
3. Monitor the patient
- DO NOT leave the patient alone and keep a constant watch on breathing and consciousness level.
- Check for and treat any other injuries that may have been overlooked.
4. Maintain body heat
- Cover the patient lightly with clothing or a blanket and protect from extremes of temperature.
Always arrange for a doctor to check the patient in the case of a head injury even if it appears that a full recovery has occurred. In some cases, the recognition of serious head injuries may be delayed for 24 to 48 hours due to a gradual increase in swelling or bruising around the brain.
- Note: When a head injury is suspected in a player during contact sport, the first aider should recommend that the patient does not return to the game. The patient should be seen by a doctor for clearance to continue playing.
A person may collapse following injury or sudden illness and sometimes may need Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).
While some patients may be unconscious and simply need protection to avoid further harm, others will need urgent cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to maintain life.
CPR is a manual method of pumping blood around a person’s body when they have suffered from a cardiac arrest – which simply means the heart has stopped functioning. CPR is not designed to restart the heart but rather to keep blood pumping so that heart and brain cells do not die due to lack of oxygen.
CPR is required when the patient is unresponsive and not breathing normally.
CPR is not difficult and is vital for anyone who is in cardiac arrest if they are to have any chance of survival.
All collapsed patients should be carefully assessed to decide what emergency care is necessary. The ‘DRSABCD’ of resuscitation is the method used for the assessment:
- check for any danger to you, the patient, or bystanders and make the area safe.
- check for response by asking a simple question and grasp/squeeze the shoulders.
S Send for help
- call for an ambulance or send someone else to call.
- open the airway by tilting the head back and lifting the chin.
- check normal breathing.
- Position the patient on their back:
- Place the heel of ONE HAND in the centre of the chest.
- Place the heel of your OTHER HAND directly on top of the first hand.
- Keep elbows locked and lean over the patient so your arms are straight.
- Push down hard and fast 30 times (push down one-third of chest depth).
- Do not worry about pushing too hard – good CPR requires you to push hard and fast.
- Once you have completed 30 compressions (pushes) on the chest, breathe into the patient’s mouth 2 times.
To breathe into the patient:
- Tilt the head back with one hand and lift the chin with the other.
- Take a deep breath and seal your lips around the patient’s mouth.
- You need to block the nose by pinching the soft part of the nose, or pushing your cheek against the nose.
- Blow into the patient’s mouth until you see the chest rise.
- Remove your mouth, take a fresh breath, and blow again into the patient’s mouth.
Do not give up!
- IF AN AED IS AVAILABLE, ATTACH IT TO THE PATIENT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE AND FOLLOW THE PROMPTS OF THE AED.
- Apply an AED (Automated Electronic Defibrillator) to the patient as soon as possible.
Located in the WSAFC Club Rooms - on the deck, behind the bar and inside first aid box located in the physio area.
Chest compressions are the most important part of CPR – if for any reason you cannot give breaths to a patient, you should still perform chest compressions.
Once CPR is started, continue until the ambulance arrives and the paramedics advise you what to do.
Key points to remember:
- Call 111 for an ambulance as soon as possible.
- Push hard and fast on the chest.
- Chest compressions are the most important part of CPR.
Continue CPR until:
- The patient recovers.
- The ambulance officers take over.
- A medical professional advises you to stop.
- You are unable to continue, usually due to exhaustion
There are three types of resuscitation: