We’re all worried by the thought of not getting prompt emergency treatment because of Covid-19.
With pressure on the emergency services mounting due to the pandemic, you need to be sure what help you need, before calling an 999.
We all think our needs are greatest, but by checking the obvious, before we call, can help everyone in a real emergency.
But before we do anything, you need to do is make sure everyone’s safe, and that all dangers are under control.
Is it a real emergency?
Is the situation life-threatening?
- Are they breathing?
- Are they conscious?
- Are they bleeding and how much blood are they losing? Is it spurting from the wound?
- Is it a child in trouble?
Anyone unconscious and not breathing is in cardiac arrest and clinically dead. This is a real emergency, you must act now to try and save their life. Now is definitely the time to call 999
What can you do?
Unconscious and not breathing
Knowing CPR will help but it’s only a temporary solution you need access to an AED defibrillator. This is a real emergency.
The call handler at 999 will tell you where the nearest AED is and the code to access the cabinet.
They will also stay on the line until the paramedics take over and will talk you through everything from CPR to using the defibrillator.
Help with using a defibrillator is rarely necessary because it will tell you what to do.
We recommend putting your phone on speaker, so you can stay in contact, whilst using two hands.
Unconscious but breathing
You need to make sure their airway is unobstructed and they are breathing freely. This could be a real emergency but may just be a faint.
If so leave them where they are, unless they are in danger or a risk of the airway becoming compromised.
You only need to put the person on their side in the recovery position if there’s a real danger of the airway becoming blocked.
Hopefully you can expect the emergency services to react quickly. Yes a real emergency but try these steps first.
- Ask them if they’re choking – they’ll probably nod frantically and point to their throat
- Support them and ask if they can cough – if not
- Tell them you are going to slap them between the shoulder blades 5 times – if this works reassure them
- If not tell them you’ll give them 5 abdominal thrusts
- Still nothing NOW call the ambulance and be prepared to start CPR if they stop breathing
Slipped carving the turkey and there’s a lot of blood.
If it’s just the hand involved you can probably deal with it and take the person to hospital. Call 111 if you need reassurance
If necessary take the person to hospital after you’ve controlled the bleed, but this is unlikely to be a real emergency.
You can normally control bleeding with pressure. A relatively simple cut from a knife should respond well.
Ideally use a clean sterile dressing an apply pressure to the source of the bleed for 10 minutes
After that, try to elevate the limb above the heart.
Could be they’ve slipped, with the cut to the neck or groin, the blood is spurting out of the wound in time with the heartbeat, this is life-threatening and needs an ambulance. Call 999
Maybe there’s something embedded in the wound, glass or metal, don’t try to remove it
Above all keep pressure on the sides and get the person to hospital.
Burns and Scalds
All types of heat can potentially cause burns.
To be clear burns can be hot or cold, wet or dry. Wet burns are usually called scalds.
Touching an iron or oven tray quickly, leaving the skin unbroken red, inflamed and tender, is a superficial burn, like sunburn, painful, but not a reason to call 999
Any burn that breaks the skin or forms a blister is serious and is called a partial thickness burn. Very often burns result in shock, which can be life-threatening. If you’re worried call 111, they may decide you need an ambulance.
Because liquids and steam, flow, scalds are more likely to affect a larger area. So tell the call handler the size of the burn. It’s a good idea to relate the size to how big the palm of the person’s hand is.
Someone with severe burns or full thickness burns where clothing has melted into the flesh or the skin is like cooked meat, is definitely 999