Responding to trauma - a guide for the UK's blue light services

27/04/19

From cuts and wounds, broken bones to total limb amputation, each case of trauma is unique and varies in severity, but the first aid products needed to prevent blood loss, protect broken bones and provide adequate care to the victim  are uniform, regardless of the circumstances.

Not everyone who works in the emergency services is a medical professional, and whether you're police, fire or ambulance service, there is always the possibility of responding to trauma cases in the line of duty.

This blog shouldn't be used as a replacement for extensive first aid training for emergency service workers, but to help provide the information necessary should you find yourself responding to a life-threatening incident and give insight to the crucial first aid products you need to do so.

The steps to take

  • Radio or call for an ambulance - the average response time in the UK sits around eight minutes, therefore, calling 999 should be done so immediately if the victim is suffering from an injury that requires immediate medical treatment, such as is bleeding heavily from a deep wound, there are signs of broken bones, the victim is unconscious or is showing signs of head injury or you may expect internal bleeding.,

  • Do not remove any objects from the victim - if the victim has been impaled by a foreign object do not attempt to remove it from their body, doing so can leave a large open wound, increasing the blood loss.

  • Control the bleeding - stem the blood loss as soon as possible by bandaging and applying pressure to the wound. If a limb is affected, elevate it above the heart to reduce the blood pressure in the limb and slow bleeding. Never remove bloody bandages, apply fresh bandages over them and maintain pressure.

  • Immobilise limbs - bandage and immobilise any limbs which are damaged or swollen, if the victim has suffered damage to the legs, keep them led down until an ambulance arrives.

  • Do not move the victim - if you suspect a head, neck or spine injury as doing so can worsen their injuries, the exception being in dangerous environments, such as in a fire.

  • Keep the victim warm - especially if they are entering shock and/or have lost a lot of blood.

  • Perform CPR - if the victim isn't breathing

Crucial first aid products for responding to trauma

  • Medical gloves - work as a two-way barrier for both victim and responder, minimising the risk of infection for the victim and protecting the responder from any bloodborne diseases the victim may carry.

  • Conforming Bandages - to help support minor sprains and swelling.

  • Clothing shears - specifically designed to cut through fabrics, clothing shears not only help the responder remove clothing from the victim to make treatment easier, but allow them to resize bandages and dressings to the optimum length.

  • Trauma dressings - usually adequate to stem the bleeding from the majority of severe wounding cases and can be combined with pressure bandages to automatically apply pressure to the affected area.

  • Haemostatic dressings - containing active ingredients that promote blood clotting, haemostatic dressings are to be used when trauma dressings are not stemming the blood loss.

  • Tourniquets - are only to be used as a last resort, when blood loss cannot be controlled, or when the victim has suffered an amputation.

  • Emergency foil blankets - to keep the victim warm by reflecting natural body heat back towards the victim.Defibrillator  - if the victim is unconscious and has stopped breathing.

Evaluating the effectiveness, post-incident

It's important to evaluate and address the effectiveness of your response, post-incident, to improve the efficiency of future responses, and ultimately produce better victim outcomes.

Some questions you may ask are:

  • Did I have the first aid products and/or defibrillators available to effectively treat the victim?

  • Did I have reliable products, that were not date expired?

  • Was I confident in my approach?

  • Am I confident in my first aid training, did I know how to use the products or perform CPR?

Ensuring you're well prepared when responding to trauma is vital towards the survival of the victim, and you will find the products listed in this article in critical control packs and standard workplace first aid kits.

Since 2013, we have been appointed to a national framework for the UK's emergency services, streamlining the procurement of vital first aid and life-saving equipment, offering rapid transition and onboarding with no downtime.

Download our guide "Navigating procurement in the Emergency Services" and discover how services, such as The Metropolitan Police Service, have benefited from the framework.

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