Step in to help when Christmas goes awry

Would you know what to do in a festive health emergency? Chase reporter ANTONY CLAY passes on some vital tips from St John Ambulance just in case the worst happens

CHRISTMAS is a time for get-togethers. Whether it be with family or friends, it could mean a large number of people in the home.

Everyone is out for fun but the presence of hot food, booze and party high jinks could also open the door to accidents.

Charity St John Ambulance is urging people to learn vital first aid just in case Christmas doesn’t go quite to plan.

Learning first aid skills could ofcourse save a life at any time of the year.

Learning basic first aid could help prevent an unnecessary trip to hospital and ensure that families and communities avoid spending any part of the festive season in a medical waiting room.

Knowing what to do in an emergency could mean the difference between life and death.

The St John Ambulance app provides first aid advice on the go and the organisation has come up with some handy tips on what to do when things go wrong.

In the case of an emergency, people should always call 999 for help but information on the free St John Ambulance app or website can be a real help in a tense medical situation.

You can check them out at any time so you are ready for any scenario.

Dr Lynn Thomas, medical director at St John Ambulance, said: “Knowing how to treat a burn from cooking or a sprained ankle is vital as it means minor injuries can be dealt with at home but acting fast with first aid can also save lives. Having the confidence to take swift action, for example if a loved one is choking or has a cardiac arrest, can help avoid a tragedy at what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year.

“Always dial 999 in an emergency but equipping yourself with some first aid skills can also help you identify when to seek medical attention. No one wants to end up in hospital, especially at Christmas, and so we’re urging everyone to be prepared, stock up on essentials like plasters and indigestion remedies, and know some first aid.”


CHOKING (adult and child)
With small parts in gifts and plenty of sweets on offer, there is a chance that little ones may put something in their mouth that causes an obstruction of the airway, but adults can, of course, also risk choking at the dinner table.
Keep an eye on small children but if you do find yourself in a situation where someone can’t breathe, know how to step forward and help.
What to do (adult and child): visit
1 Encourage the casualty to keep coughing;
2 Give five sharp back blows between the shoulder blades, checking the mouth each time;
3 Give five abdominal thrusts, checking the mouth each time;
4 Call 999/112 for emergency help if the object does not dislodge, and repeat steps 2 and 3 until help arrives.
What to do (baby): visit
1 Lay the baby face down along your thigh and support their head, give five back blows between their shoulder blades, turn them over and check their mouth each time;
2 Using two fingers, give five sharp chest thrusts, checking the mouth each time;
3 If the item does not dislodge, call 999/112 for emergency help, taking the baby with you when you call. Repeat the steps 1 and 2 until help arrives.

A cardiac arrest happens when someone’s heart stops. If someone has become unresponsive and they are not breathing normally they could be in cardiac arrest and you need to act quickly. Call 999 or 112 for emergency help and start CPR, using a defibrillator if available.
How to do CPR: visit
1 Call 999/112 for emergency help. Do not leave the person and use a defibrillator if available;
2 Start CPR: give 30 chest compressions and then two rescue breaths, repeat 30:2 until help arrives. If you do not feel confident or comfortable delivering rescue breaths, then continue chest compressions;
3 If a defibrillator is available, ask a helper to switch on the defibrillator and apply pads while you continue CPR. Follow the voice prompts given by the defibrillator. Stand back when shock is given;
4 If the person has become responsive, put them in the recovery position, leave the defibrillator pads attached and monitor the level of response.

If someone has had too much to drink and is unresponsive (but still breathing), putting them in the recovery position will help to maintain their airway.
Make sure to reassure them, keep them warm and check for any other injuries and do not make them be sick as this may cause a blockage.
What to do: visit
1 Place their nearest arm at a right angle to their body with the elbow bent;
2 Place the back of their far hand against their cheek and hold it there;
3 Pull the far knee up until their foot is flat;
4 Pull on the bent leg to roll them towards you;
5 Tilt their head back to open airway;
6 If you are unsure about how serious their condition is then call 999 or 112 for medical help.

A slip of the knife while preparing the Christmas feast could leave someone with a cut finger, or someone could trip over whilst playing a festive game causing tears and a grazed knee.
What to do: visit
1 If the wound is dirty, clean the wound with cold running water or alcohol-free wipes;
2 Pat it dry;
3 Raise and support the injury;
4 Apply a sterile adhesive dressing.

Hot oil jumping out of the pan while checking on roast potatoes or a cup of tea pulled over by a child can easily cause minor burns or scalds.
What to do: visit
1 Hold burn under cool running water for at least 10 minutes;
2 Remove clothing or jewellery around the burn, unless stuck to the burn;
3 Cover lengthways with cling film;
4 Monitor casualty and seek medical advice if concerned, for example by calling NHS 111, who will be able to advice if further action is required.

Presents have been unwrapped and are scattered everywhere which could easily result in a sprained ankle if you or a family member takes a tumble.
What to do – visit
Remember RICE:
1 R – Rest injured part;
2 I – Apply frozen peas or an ice pack, wrapped in a tea towel;
3 C – Provide Comfortable support, checking the circulation every 10 minutes;
4 E – Elevate the injured part and advise the injured person to rest.

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