This section is no substitute for taking a First Aid course!
If an injury should happen to anyone during your trip, the first thing that needs to be done is to secure the accident scene to ensure that no one else becomes a victim. Then assess the situation, decide whether or not you need emergency services and if you do, call for or send someone for help immediately. If the victim is awake and responsive, ask them to tell you what is wrong. If what they say makes you suspect a spinal injury, do not move the victim. By moving them, you may risk injuring them even more. If the victim is not responsive, assume they do have a spinal injury and do not move them.
If communication with emergency services is unavailable, it may become necessary for one person to ride his/her snowmachine for assistance. Provide as complete an assessment of the injuries as possible, then act only as your training tells you.
Follow these do’s and don’ts next:
- Do – Remain Calm
- Do – Treat the victim for major bleeding by applying direct pressure to the wound. This pressure will help slow or stop bleeding
- Do – Evaluate and if necessary treat the victim for shock:
- Immediately following the crash or incident
- Anytime a victim is, or was unconscious
- Following blunt trauma or severe jarring of the body
- If a victim has broken bones
- Do – Keep the victim as warm and dry as possible
- Do – Stabilize
- Do – Take precautions so that you do not become the victim of an accident yourself
- Do – Travel with an adequately equipped first aid kit
- Do – Take a basic First Aid/CPR course; it could save a life
- Do not take or give drugs or medications, legal or not. Let medical professionals prescribe medications
- Do not attempt to set broken bones
- Do not overstep your training
- Do not move an unconscious victim unless there is no alternative
To treat shock, have the victim lie flat on their back and elevate their legs. Keep them warm by covering them with extra clothing or a blanket. Don’t forget to put everything possible under the patient to keep them insulated from the cold ground.
Frostbite occurs when your skin and/or the underlying tissue freezes. Things to watch out for are the skin becoming numb, a burning sensation, or a visible whitening of the tissue. When you feel frostbite coming on, it will hurt and you’ll naturally be doing anything you can to avoid it. However as the tissue actually freezes, the sensation of pain goes away due to the nerves themselves freezing. If the skin is already frozen, warm the affected area gently. Do not let the skin refreeze once warmed. Seek medical attention immediately. Do not rub the skin with frozen snow. Do prevent frostbite by recognizing the danger signs and wearing the proper clothing.
Hypothermia is the loss of body heat to a point where the body can no longer generate its own heat, or heat escapes faster than the body can generate it. The first signs of hypothermia are uncontrollable shivering and slurred speech, followed by delirium and unconsciousness. If the person is not treated, they can ultimately die. Warming the victim is the only treatment. If someone shows signs of hypothermia, don’t wait – warm them immediately. Build a fire, hug them or huddle close together. Do whatever you can to get the victim warm.
NOTE: All personnel on the North Slope with Lounsbury & Associates will receive First Aid, Blood-Borne Pathogens and CPR Training. We strongly recommend that anyone riding a snowmachine does the same.
More topics in Emergencies: