Spring is when we all start to think about getting out into nature, but be alert for an ambush.
Enjoying long walks in the forest or out across open heath land is a great way to spend time and breathe fresh air.
However, lurking in the undergrowth there is a tiny eight-legged creature waiting to ambush you and your pets.
The tick is a parasite looking to latch onto a nice healthy blood supply for a meal and they love warm moist bodies.
As you walk through the bracken, they will attach themselves to you, often making their way to scalp, armpits or groin areas.
Once they’ve found their ideal “camp site”, they’ll bite into your skin, injecting a type of local anaesthetic, so you probably won’t feel a thing, then start to feed.
Because they’ll have chosen their feeding ground well, you probably won’t notice them for some time and that’s when the real danger occurs.
Ticks carry a bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi which causes Lyme Disease, this usually enters the host after the tick has been attached between 36 and 48 hours.
Lyme Disease is an infectious disease and in its early stages causes, tiredness and fatigue. It can make you feel sick, produce muscle and joint pain with a high temperature, chills and neck stiffness.
Once established, after 3 to 30 days, the site of the bite will develop a distinctive circular “bullseye” rash.
Joints will become swollen and painful; the limbs and extremities feel numb and the facial muscles can become paralysed.
Over time, people who have developed Lyme Disease, may well have heart and memory problems.
This is why it’s important to identify tick bites early and get appropriate treatment.
What can you do if bitten?
As with all first aid, start with your own protection, put on disposable gloves, if you’re treating someone else, you’ll be in contact with blood.
Your best way to remove a tick is with a special tick removal tool, this will disengage the tick without leaving any mouth-parts in the bite site.
By sliding the tool under the tick from the side like a claw hammer removing a nail until it’s held securely.
Lift it slightly away from the skin and twist the tool 2 or 3 rotations, either way, until the tick detaches itself.
If you don’t have a tick removal tool you can use fine tipped tweezers.
Gently grip the tick as close to the skin as possible and very slowly pull the tick upwards. Don’t crush the tick, or you’ll leave head and mouth-parts embedded, which can cause infection.
Once the tick’s removed disinfect the site of the bite well.
If the site remains red and swollen seek medical advice for treatment.
Never use a cigarette or flame to remove a tick.
How to protect yourself from tick bites
If you’re planning to walk in long grass, bracken or in forest and heath land.
Don’t wear shorts
Tuck trousers into socks
Stick to footpaths rather than walking through long vegetation
Brush down your clothes
Consider using an insect repellent
Check yourself when you shower at the end of the day. Especially, under the arms, in and around the ears, in the tummy button, backs of knees, in and around the hair, between your legs and around the waist.
Where’s the AED (Automated External Defibrillator)
When someone has a cardiac arrest and isn’t breathing, you should start CPR immediately, then send someone to fetch the AED.
Not all AEDs have locked cabinets, so you may be able to just pull open the door.
Some of the locked units have quite a lot of writing on them and you could be in panic mode, so may not see, “Call 999 for the access code”
Once you’ve dialed 999/112, you’ll be able to open the door. If you’re not by the cabinet, they’ll tell you if there’s a unit within a few minutes of where you are.
Take the AED out of the cabinet.
Once you’re back with the casualty, open the unit, unzip, pull the lever, switch it on if necessary.
Follow the voice instructions and do whatever they say.
Remove all clothing from the casualty’s chest, cutting it off if necessary.
Most AED packs include a set of heavy-duty shears, these will easily cut through cloth and underwired bras.
If there are bystanders, get them to hold up a blanket, rug or towel to preserve the casualty’s dignity.
Once you’ve removed the clothes, wipe dry the skin.
Look at the pads to see where they need to go, if the casualty has a lot of chest hair, be prepared to shave it.
There’s a razor in the pack, use it to clear the areas where the pads are to go.
Remove the pads from the backing and place them as shown in the diagram on the reverse side.
Don’t worry if you get them mixed up, they’ll work just as well in either position.
Before placing the pads, make sure they’re not touching any metal or jewellery, including piercings.
Remove all patches and plasters and avoid placing the pads over existing internal pacemakers or defibrillators. (If there’s an internal defibrillator beneath the skin, it has failed, so continue with pad placement adjacent to it)
Attach the Pads
Once the pads are attached, the AED should now be giving you further instructions.
If you’ve already been performing CPR it will tell you to stop and not touch the casualty, while it analyses their heartbeat.
Following a cardiac arrest, the heart won’t be beating normally, it will be quivering or fibrillating.
The AED will detect this, but if someone is touching them it will detect their pulse and stop the defibrillator from shocking.
When the AED has stopped analysing, having failed to find a heartbeat, it will tell you the patient needs a shock.
Deliver a shock
Some AEDs deliver this automatically, but others require the person using it to press a button to deliver the shock.
When you’re told the shock’s been given, if the heart hasn’t restarted, you’ll be instructed to begin CPR again.
The unit will give you the option to follow instructions for this and give you a rhythm to follow for the correct rate of compressions.
You should follow the audible instructions from the unit, administering CPR and shocks as directed.
Always continue this until medical professionals tell you to stop, the casualty comes round and makes definite signs of life, or you’re just too exhausted to carry on and there’s nobody to take over from you.
If the casualty comes around, never remove the pads, they could easily have another arrest. Because they’re single use they can’t be reattached.
Myths about defibrillators.
They start the heart – defibrillators stop the heart from quivering or fibrillating. This allows the heart to naturally “reboot” into a normal rhythm.
The casualty can be harmed by an AED – The person is clinically dead, you can only help them
You can be shocked by an AED – You can only shock someone if there is no heartbeat, this why it’s important not to touch them when the device is analysing.