The acquisition of First Aid and Home Nursing skills prepares individuals to serve effectively in a national emergency. If such an emergency occurs, the care of many thousands of injured or seriously ill persons becomes a tremendous task for the organized health services. Doctors and nurses may not be readily available to assist you. Thus the importance of First Aid and Home Nursing skills takes on a new dimension. The survival of the injured or sick members of your family may become your responsibility.
The main objectives of training individuals in first aid and home nursing are:
- To preserve life
- To minimize the effects of injury or illness
- To relieve suffering or distress
- To provide continuing care and assist in rehabilitation.
Therefore you must:
- Know and practice life-saving first aid.
- Know and practice simple home nursing measures.
First Aid Supplies
A simple first aid box kept in your shelter or in your evacuation kit should contain:
- 1 bottle mild antiseptic solution (use to clean cuts)
- 5 yards 2-inch gauze bandage
- 2 triangular bandages (use for slings)
- 12 4″ x 4″ sterile pads (use to cover cuts, wounds and burns)
- 12 assorted individual adhesive dressins (use for minor cuts)
- 2 large dressing pads (shell dressing type) 8″ x 8″ (Available at minimal cost from St. John Ambulance Association)
- 5 yards 1/2 inch adhesive tape
- 9 assorted safety pins
- 1 small bottle toothache drops (for temporary treatment of toothache)
- 1 tube of petroleum jelly
- 1 small bottle aspirin tablets
- 1 thermometer
- 1 small scissors (blunt ended)
- 1 medicine glass
- 1 pair tweezers
- 4 oz baking soda and 8 oz table salt (make a drinking solution by adding 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp baking soda to 1 qt. of water)
- 1 First Aid Manual (St. John Ambulance Association)
- 1 Home Nursing Textbook (St. John Ambulance Association and/or Canadian Red Cross Society)
- 1 packet paper tissues
NOTE: individuals requiring special medication such as insulin should maintain at least 100-days supplies.
First Aid Hints
- Keep calm.
- Keep the injured person Iying down in a comfortable position, his head level with his body until you determine whether his injuries are serious.
- Examine for stoppage of breathing, serious bleeding or broken bones. These must be treated immediately before any attempt is made to move the injured person. Do not be hurried into this unless you are in a situation of extreme danger.
- Keep him comfortably warm with blankets or other coverings, under and above the patient.
- Never attempt to give a semi-conscious or unconscious person anything to drink.
An unconscious patient lying on his back may be strangled by his own tongue which will tend to fall back and obstruct the airway. All unconscious persons should be placed lying half over on their faces, (three-quarter-prone position).
If the patient is breathing quietly and easily and his lips are pink and have no froth on them, breathing is not obstructed.
If the patient is breathing noisily and with difficulty, if his lips are blue and frothing, or if his chest is sucked inwards when he breathes in, his airway is obstructed and needs immediate attention.
Keep the airway clear by:
Placing the casualty on his back; supporting his shoulders on a pad of any suitable material available; tilting the head back with one hand on the forehead, the other lifting the neck.
- Stop bleeding (haemorrhage)
- Keep out germs (infection)
Cover the wound with a clean dressing to keep out dirt and germs. Bandage it on firmly to stop the bleeding. If a wound is bleeding profusely, hold it firmly with your hand until you can secure an emergency dressing. Any thick pad of clean, soft, compressible material large enough to cover the wound will make a good dressing. Clean handkerchiefs, towels, sanitary pads, tissue handkerchiefs or sheets make good emergency dressings.
Cover the burned area with large, thick, dry dressing and bandage it on firmly.
Encourage the casualty to drink plenty of fluids. A solution of salt and soda is useful to give to casualties with burns and to those who have suffered from serious bleeding.
Broken bones (fractures):
If a limb is very painful and cannot be used, appears to be bent in the wrong place or the casualty says he heard or felt the bone snap, it is likely that a bone is broken.
Sharp ends of a broken bone may damage important structures such as blood vessels and nerves. A broken limb should be steadied and supported to prevent movement of the broken ends before attempting to move the patient.
If a person’s back or neck is so severely injured that he is afraid to move because of pain, or cannot move or feel his limbs, you should assume that he has a broken back. He should be moved on a hard, firm stretcher taking great care not to “jack-knife” him by picking up his feet and shoulders. Improvised stretchers can be made from a door, wide board, window shutter, etc. Fill in the natural hollows of the track and neck with padding and support the head on both sides to prevent movement.
- Put strong antiseptics into a wound.
- Use a tourniquet.
- Remove clothing which is stuck to a burn.
- Break any blisters or apply creams or grease to a large burn.
- Give anything by mouth to a semi-conscious patient, or to a patient with internal abdominal wounds.
HOME NURSING HINTS
Before medical or nursing help becomes available you may also encounter infant care problems. emotional problems and persons suffering from radiation sickness. What to observe, and what to do for these latter cases, is outlined below.
Breast feeding is preferable but, if not possible, then a formula using powdered or evaporated milk should be prepared under clean conditions.
If vomiting or diarrhoea occurs infants and children become dehydrated very quickly. To avoid this happening give frequent sips of boiled water.
If a rash or fever develops, keep others away from the sick child.
Persons who become emotionally disturbed following a disaster should be treated calmly but firmly. They should be kept in small groups, preferably with persons whom they know and encouraged to “talk out” their problem. If they are not otherwise injured they should be given something to do. It may be necessary to enlist the aid of one other calm person to help subdue the overexcited patient. If a stunned or dazed reaction persists over 6 to 8 hours this should be reported to a doctor or nurse immediately one becomes available.
The signs and symptoms of this illness are described in Step 2.
Treatment includes rest, the provision of whatever nutritional food and drink is available and personal encouragement to get well. Swab the mouth gently with mild, warm salt and water if it becomes sore. As these patients are susceptible to infection, keep wounds clean and covered with a sterile dressing. Separate these patients from persons with colds, rash or fever.
The following suggestions may help you care for your patient when proper equipment is not available.
- Bed: A couch, mattress or any well padded, firm surface; if too low raise on bricks, boxes or wooden blocks.
- Bedding Protection: Old crib pads cut into a convenient size and placed over a waterproof sheeting; or several layers of newspaper and heavy brown paper covered with old soft cotton. (Never use thin plastic if patient is a child.)
- Backrest: A straight-backed chair turned upside down at head of bed and securely tied to bed; a triangular bolster or cushions from a chair or chesterfield.
- Bed Cradle: A light wooden box or firm cardboard carton approximately 10 x 12 x 24 inches, with two sides removed; or a hoop sawn in half and the two pieces joined together in the centre.
- Pressure Pads: Soft cushion or foam or sponge rubber pads will protect heels, elbows, back of head or any other body pressure point.
- Bedpan or Urinal: For bedpan use a padded dish or pan; for urinal any wide-necked bottle or jar.
- Hot Water Bottle: A heated brick wrapped in several layers of newspaper.