Trust Me I'm A Doctor, BBC Two Series 1 Life Savers
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A&E doctor Saleyha Ahsan is on a mission to show us all what to do in the event of a medical emergency. In countries where First Aid is taught in all schools, survival rates from things like sudden cardiac arrest are about twice as high as here in the UK.
Each year in Britain around 60,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest away from a hospital - their heart suddenly stops beating - and the survival rate can be as low as 2 in 100.
But in many cases all that's needed is for someone to try simple CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) whilst help is on its way. And it's never been easier to save a life as now there are defibrillators in most public places that will talk you through it and attempt to restart the casualty's heart.
If someone collapses in front of you, or you find someone unconscious, then the first thing to remember is not to panic and to keep safe yourself.
1) Check for any danger around you, and try to rouse the casualty by giving their shoulders a hard shake and shouting 'can you hear me?'.
2) If you get no response, then simply tilt their head back to help clear their airway. This might be enough to start them breathing. Put your face near their cheek to see if you can hear or feel breath, and look along their chest to see if it is rising and falling.
3) If they're not breathing, then quickly call for help (or ask someone else to) and start CPR: cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Use both hands – one on top of the other – to push down firmly in the centre of their chest, about 5-6cm with each push. It's quite a big push, so if you get right over them so that your arms are straight and you can use your own body weight that will help. You are helping get blood to their organs, especially their brain, and the pushing will also help draw some fresh air into their lungs. Push down twice a second – that's about the same speed as the beats in the song 'Stayin’ Alive' by the BeeGees so you can sing that to yourself whilst you're doing it! Keep going until help arrives – swap over with other people if you can to keep yourself from getting too tired.
4) If someone can bring you a defibrillator, or AED, then don’t be afraid to use it. They are designed to be used by anyone. If you call 999 they will tell you where your nearest one is. They have a voice prompt like a car sat nav system which can talk you through everything you need to do. A defibrillator will analyse the casualty's heart, and if necessary, produce an electric . The more quickly you can get to one then the better the chances of the casualty surviving.
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More than 200 people choke to death in the UK every year – both adults and children, and it can be a terrifying prospect to be faced with. But as A&E doctor Saleyha Ahsan shows, just knowing a few simple tips can help you save someone’s life if they start choking.
If a child can walk, then treat them as an adult, and there are three things to do:
Cough. Get them to try to cough it up, and if that doesn’t work…
Slap. Get them to lean forward, support them with one hand in the centre of their chest and give them a hard slap right in the centre of their back with the heel of your hand. You need to be firm – you should really feel it on your hand. If the first slap doesn’t dislodge it, then slap them again. Each time, check whether you have managed to clear the obstruction, but if not give up to 5 firm backslaps. If this doesn’t work, then don’t panic…
Squeeze. Grasp the person round their middle from behind. Put your thumb into the palm of your hand, and close your fingers round it to make a fist. Then with the thumb side of your fist, point it into their abdomen, halfway between their belly button and the bottom of their breast bone. Put your other hand on top, and squeeze tightly, inwards and upwards. Check to see if this has dislodged the object. If not, do it again. Do up to 5 of these abdominal thrusts, and then go back to the 5 back slaps.
Get someone to call for an ambulance if three cycles of slaps and abdominal thrusts don’t work. Even if your thrusts have been successful, the person should always be checked out in case there is any internal damage. But don’t be afraid to try these techniques – in an emergency, it is trying that counts.
If it is a young baby that is choking, too young to walk, then just adapt the techniques slightly:
Slap. For the slaps, lay the baby face down along one forearm and slap them firmly in the centre of the back with the other hand. Again, the slap should be sharp and hard. As before, do up to 5 of these, but if they don’t work, try…
Squeeze. Lay the baby face up on your forearm, and using two fingers poke hard downwards and slightly towards the head on their breastbone, in the centre of their chest just below their nipples. Again, do up to 5 of these, and then, if necessary, turn the baby over and try the back slaps again.
As with an adult, get someone to call an ambulance if the initial back slaps and thrusts haven’t worked, and ensure that the baby is checked for any problems if you’ve had to do an abdominal thrust.
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Over 400 people a year drown in the UK - most of them not near the sea but in rivers, canals and swimming pools, or even, in the case of young children, in a bath. Would you know what to do if you came across someone in trouble in the water? A&E doctor, Saleyha Ahsan, shows us all how to revive them.
Firstly, and most importantly, don’t become a casualty yourself! Use anything you can to get them out of the water, but don’t put your own safety at risk – you can’t help them if you yourself are in trouble.
If you do manage to get them out of the water, however, then you must act quickly in order to help get oxygen to their brain and organs. The biggest killer in cases of drowning is a lack of oxygen in the body, and by the time you have got someone out of the water, that is going to be the critical matter to deal with. That is why rescue breaths should be performed before chest compressions in the case of victims of drowning.
If you’re on your own, shout for help but don’t delay moving on to the lifesaving techniques. If there’s someone else with you, then get them to phone for help immediately whilst you:
Try to wake the casualty. Give them a good shake, or even pinch their earlobe. If they don’t show any signs of consciousness…
Lie them on their back and tilt their chin and head backwards to help clear their airway. This could be enough to get them to start breathing. Check if they’re breathing by leaning over them and placing your cheek near their mouth. LOOK along their chest as you do this to see if their chest is rising and falling, FEEL for breath on your cheek and LISTEN for breathing sounds. If there is no sign of breath then you should…
Give them 5 rescue breaths. Pinch their nose and keep their head tilted back as you breathe into their mouth from yours, making as good a seal as you can with your mouth over theirs. Each breath you give them should last 1 second, and make sure that you take a good deep breath yourself in between each one. These breaths will get valuable oxygen into their lungs, which is particularly important in a drowned casualty. After you’ve done 5 rescue breaths try…
CPR. Using both hands together, one on top of the other, push down right in the centre of their chest firmly, with your arms straight. Push down 5-6cm each time, twice a second (if it helps, try to do it to the rhythm of the song ‘Stayin’ Alive’ by the BeeGees as the beats in this are perfectly spaced for CPR). Do this for 1 minute (120 compressions).
If you are on your own, then once you’ve done 5 rescue breaths and one minute of CPR you can take the time to call the emergency services. Hopefully you will have helped get some oxygen to their brain. But as soon as you have called for help, then continue:
30 chest compressions followed by 2 rescue breaths over and over again until they start breathing normally or help arrives (if there’s more than one of you then take it in turns).
If the person in trouble starts breathing normally again before help arrives, then roll them into the ‘recovery position’, lying on their side, with their top leg and arm bent to help prop them up, and their head tilted slightly back to help keep their airway open. If you’ve got any spare clothing to help keep them warm, then lay these over the top of them and talk to them to reassure them that help is on its way.
Most victims of drowning have not suffered a cardiac arrest which can be helped by the use of a defibrillator, although if you are somewhere where there is one available, then you can try it. Dry the skin you are attaching the defibrillator pads to as much as possible, but there’s no need to worry about problems or extra hazards from using the defibrillator in wet conditions. It is more important, however, to help get oxygen around the body, so certainly give rescue breaths and CPR first.
For more information please click here : BBC Trust Me I'm A Doctor website