Five Minutes to Live: Medical Emergency - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

11/10/03

Five Minutes to Live: Medical Emergency

Imagine someone you love, unconscious. You may not know why, he or she is non-responsive, but what you do in the next five minutes could save a life.

First, as in any emergency, call 9-1-1, so the ambulance can get in route. The next step depends on whether the emergency was caused by trauma or a medical condition. Lubbock EMS Senior Field Training Officer David Scott explains what to do, if you know trauma is involved. "If it was a non-medical or you knew it was caused by some sort of injury, the main concern is not moving the cervical spine or neck which could cause a further injury, possibly paralysis or even death. What you want to do is stabilize the spine. You still need to open the airway, so you keep your hands on the forehead. Put fingers behind the jaw and do a jaw thrust method which also opens the airway. At that point, you can also lean over and listen for breathing while watching the chest rise and fall."

Scott says, "You're stabilizing the head and not moving the head at all because it's connected to the cervical spine and you don't want to cause any extra damage. What you do is hold the head in place without moving the neck and use your fingers to move the jaw forward with a minimal pressure and that opens the airway."

If you know it's a medical emergency, the method is different. Scott says, "The first thing you do is check the airway and do what is called the head tilt, chin and lift method. Take the head back, bring the jaw forward and open the airway. Then you want to leave over and check breathing."

Lubbock EMS Training Chief, Debra Morris explains you should also not rely on myths, that may be used on television shows or movies. "Don't put anything in their mouth especially your fingers. You could lose one. A lot of the old wives tales, on seizures, where you put your billfold or spoon or whatever, you have handy in their mouth to keep them from swallowing their tongue is no longer true. It's hard sometimes for the public to check pulses. Their adrenaline is running so high, they're feeling their own pulse so that's not as important as it used to be.

If you do or do not know why the person is non-responsive, the best safety solution is to call 9-1-1 and wait until the ambulance arrives. For NewsChannel 11's Safety Solutions, I'm Sharon Maines.

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