Thursday, February 26, 2009

Back to Basics

My five year old son had a seizure recently.
With luck, he will never have another.

But during the course of this event I learned that a lot of otherwise sensible people have no idea of what to do in a medical emergency, even if they have had CPR training.

So here are some basics to keep in mind:

First, remain calm. Panicking serves absolutely no use and is counterproductive.

Second, if in doubt, call 911. Paramedics would rather respond to a false alarm than have someone not call and die as a result of their hesitation.

Third, ABC! This simple mnemonic, used by every nurse, doctor, and EMT is apparently not as well known as I thought it was. My parents, both CPR certified, had never heard of it. Nor had my son's teacher.

A. B. C. stands for Airway, Breathing, Circulation. This is called primary assessment by ER types and anyone can check them.

First: Airway. Is the victim able to breath or is something obstructing the airway, like a tongue or foreign object? Opening the airway is the entire point of the head tilt, chin lift you are taught in CPR training.

Second: Breathing. Is the victim breathing? Can you feel or hear the breath? Are both sides of the chest expanding? This is where rescue breathing comes in, though that is now thought of as more optional than required.

Third: Circulation. Does the victim have a pulse? Check for the pulse by placing your first two fingers on the wrist, in the inside hollow just back from the pad of your thumb. That's the radial artery. Once you find it, you can assess quality: strong or weak, slow or rapid, regular or irregular. If you can't find it, start chest compressions.

There are few things in life as simple as ABC. Or as life-saving.


Sarah Laurenson said...

Wow! Sorry to hear you had such a hard time and that your son had a seizure. Hope all is well now.

Panic is a common first response and it's hard to find people who don't panic. I thought ABC was universal in CPR training.

acpaul said...

My son was less traumatized by the event than his grandparents were.

I didn't expect the sort of freezing panic they evidenced. That is probably more my problem than theirs, working in the ICU has skewed my sense of normality.

I thought ABC was universal, too, but apparently, it isn't.

VinceInAZ said...

How did your husband react? Helpful or useless?

acpaul said...

Helpfully, of course.

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