Dying for a holiday?

Christmas Eve

Why is 10pm on Christmas Eve a dangerous time for Swedes.

Swedish research led by Dr David Erlinge, from the Department of Cardiology, Clinical Sciences, at the Lund University  looked at the frequency of heart attacks at holiday times.

They have concluded that, the average daily number of heart attacks increases from 50 to 69 a on Christmas Eve massive 37% increase. Most of these occur around 10pm, following a day of too much food and excessive drinking

You may ask why Christmas Eve? The simple answer, in Swedish culture they celebrate on the 24th of December, not Christmas Day as we do in the UK.Christmas lights

Christmas Day

Therefore, it’s not unreasonable to suppose that, 10pm on Christmas Day in the UK, may be the most likely time for Brits to be having heart attacks, too.

Seemingly it doesn’t get much better on Boxing Day either, the increase remains high at 22%.

But the big surprise was New Years Eve, with no appreciable increase, and heart attack symptoms probably masked by alcohol.Paper chains

New Year

However, New Year’s Day the heart attacks again rose by 20%. Put down to after effects of too much alcohol and food, sleep deprivation and cold weather.

Dr. Erlinge said, “The peak is very pronounced, exactly on Christmas Eve and the following two days, so, I think it is something specific about the way we celebrate these holidays.

“We do not know for sure, but emotional distress with acute experience of anger, anxiety, sadness, grief, and stress increases the risk of a heart attack. Excessive food intake, alcohol, long distance travelling may also increase the risk.

“Interestingly, the pattern of increased risk in the morning which dominates the rest of the year was reversed at Christmas. With an increased risk in the evening, indicating that the stress and eating during the day triggered the heart attacks.

“People could avoid unnecessary stress, take care of elderly relatives with risk of heart problems and avoid excessive eating and drinking.”

Beliefs

The researchers believe that the emotional pressure of Christmas. Stress, anxiety, sadness, anger, grief, family disputes, financial worries and memories of lost relatives and friends, all contribute.

Of course, environmental issues such as the “flu” season will pay a part. Over 65s being most liable to succumb, especially if they have heart problems.

“People need to be aware of the increased cardiovascular risk associated with emotional distress and excessive food intake that may occur during large holidays. We also need to care more about our elderly and sicker friends and relatives,” added Dr Erlinge.

Read about this research in the British Medical Journal

Will you stand out from the crowd?

Stand out from the crowdGreen grass sheep

You’re in a training workshop and the facilitator asks if anyone has any questions. But no one wants to stand out from the crowd.

You know that you didn’t quite understand something, but nobody else has put their hand up and asked the “dumb question”.

So, you just sit there, in sublime ignorance, possibly never knowing the answer.

Psychologists call it “pluralistic ignorance”. Typically, the only person being hurt by not asking the question is you.

But could “following the crowd”, become a matter of life or death?

The British Heart Foundation carried out a survey discovering that 1 in 3 people wouldn’t attempt Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) on somebody who collapsed in front of them.

Some even admitted, they wouldn’t even call an ambulance, expecting someone else had already done so, a situation described as “diffusion of responsibility”.

Therefore, because nobody else is doing anything, bystanders assume, it can’t be that serious, so they needn’t get involved, either – “pluralistic ignorance”.

They frequently lack the confidence to help or feel under qualified to do anything at all.

The bystander effect

This inability to act, is commonly known as the “bystander effect”

However, in the cold light of day, following the incident, you’re likely to be overwhelmed with guilt, horrified and embarrassed that you failed to help.

Psychologists studied this bystander effect, and now believe that simply knowing that it happens, may well overcome its effectiveness.

With knowledge of this effect, they may now react differently and come to the aid of someone in trouble.

If you were on your own and someone collapsed, you’d probably help.

Being in a crowd you become immune to their distress, prepared to be a spectator.

So now you know – what are you afraid of?

There’s no shame in looking a bit silly if you’re the only one reacting.

Just stand and watch and you may feel guilty at not saving a life, learn what to do and you could do just that.

Find out what to do and have confidence to act in an emergency – join one of our First Aid courses and step out from the crowd.

The Chain of Survival

The Chain of Survival.metal chain

Understanding the, “chain of survival”, can make the difference between life and death.

Firstly, nobody goes into work or school, with the expectation of one of your colleagues suffering a major illness or having a serious accident.

Secondly, Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is indiscriminate, it can affect any of us, even children and babies.

Sadly, it happens too often, and how you react, can make the difference to their chances of survival.

By learning the basic life support skills you will be in a much better position to help

Early Recognition

This is essential. If you suffer a sudden cardiac arrest, every minute that passes reduces your chance of survival by 10 percent.

Therefore, if they’re, unconscious and not breathing in a normal way, don’t hesitate, call 999 or 112 for an ambulance immediately.

In an ideal world, UK ambulance response times are about 8 minutes, but clinical pressures can probably increase that.

So, by failing to act immediately, their chance of survival will be seriously compromised, by the time they arrive.

Early Resuscitation

Start CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) immediately, it makes a critical difference.

By maintaining circulation and ventilation, the chances of significant brain damage are reduced.

And don’t worry about hurting them, a few cracked ribs in return for life, seems a reasonable exchange.

Early Defibrillation

Most importantly, early defibrillation is the third link of the chain.

Therefore, having a defibrillator close at hand, changes their survival chance, from 5 percent with CPR alone, to a convincing 75 percent.

Because people fear doing harm, or hurting the casualty by using an AED defibrillator, they fail to act.

The fact is you can’t hurt them, the technology prevents you shocking someone who doesn’t need it.

Therefore, you’ll give your casualty the best possible chance of a successful outcome by using it.

Early Hospitalisation

Finally, get them to professional medical care quickly. No matter how good the immediate care at the scene, you will need to get them to hospital, and the sooner the better.

By having an understanding of this chain of survival, you will be more confident to do something.

Resuscitation Council Chain of survival
Resuscitation Council Chain of survival

To book one of our courses click here

 

What’s the difference between a rat and a defibrillator

Fear of a rat or a cardiac arrest

Do you believe the urban myth about, never being more than 6 feet away from a rat?

If so, you may find the thought terrifying and you could be forgiven for feeling a little concerned.Rat on wall

Rats have a bad press as dirty, unhygienic, disease-ridden creatures who really have no place in a healthy human environment.

Consequently, we immediately call the rat catcher to have them dispatched.

So, what, has this got to do with First Aid?

Nothing, until you realise our reaction to a relatively insignificant risk, from a small furry creature, is far greater, than being more than 5 minutes away from a device, that could save your life.

Fear of a Cardiac Arrest

None of us want to experience a cardiac arrest, but when it happens, time is critical for your survival.

Every minute that passes after an arrest your chances of survival reduces by ten percent.

With an average ambulance response time of 8 minutes you’ll see the window for successful resuscitation is extremely narrow.

Access to a defibrillator can make a massive difference to your survival but only if it’s close by.

rat on bird feederAnd this is where the comparison with the rat comes in, you worry about being in close proximity with Mr Rat, but who even thinks about how close you are to a cardiac defibrillator?

In the pub, at the cinema, the gym, library, at home if you have a cardiac arrest you’d want the very best treatment to be immediately available.

Ideally every venue, shop or business, would have one and hopefully every street in residential areas.

But in reality you’ll find, most defibrillators are much further away than a rat, and even if they’re not, many will be hidden from view.

Companies will often install defibrillators for their employees but never register them with the ambulance service, as public access.

AED automated external defibrillator
Public Access Defibrillator

This simple act of benevolence and generosity could save the life of you or your closest friend or relative.

If you have a defibrillator, please register it.

If you don’t, consider installing one.

Many communities raise money for defibrillators, but there need to be many more to save lives.

Remember, you’re much more likely to have a cardiac arrest than be bitten by a rat, so doesn’t it make sense to know where your nearest one is and how to use it?

Book a First Aid course here

 

Your ABC of BBQ First Aid

Barbecue First Aid

One of the joys of the summer season is a barbecue with family and friends.

Sausages on BBQBut would you know what to do if someone cut themselves, suffered a nasty burn, or started choking?

Here’s a simple ABC, or rather, CBA, to remember for when you’re next enjoying some alfresco dining.

C is for Cuts

Cutting meat or vegetables, or in fact anything, requiring a knife.

Wobbly camping tables and uneven surfaces, put you at risk of cutting yourself, rather than what you intend to eat.

If someone cuts themselves, where practical rinse the wound.

Fetch the First Aid kit and put on protective gloves, a sensible addition to the barbecue kit.

Next, sorry if you’re squeamish, but you’ll need to take a look, to see exactly where the blood’s coming from. Is the blood spurting out in pulses, is it bubbling out or gently oozing.

If it’s spurting or bubbling, it’s a significant wound and you need to put pressure on it with your finger or hand.

Apply a non-fluffy dressing for 10 minutes, and raising the affected area above the heart to help to stop the bleeding.

The casualty will usually be able to maintain the pressure themselves.

If the blood comes through that dressing put a second one over the top and keep the pressure on for 10 minutes.

If the blood still comes through remove both dressings check where the blood is coming from.

Re-apply the pressure, starting again. Take appropriate steps to get the casualty to hospital.

B is for Burns

If you’re cooking on a barbecue, there’s always the risk of a direct burn from the metal barbecue grill, or from splashes of fat or steam.

The most important thing you can do with any burn or scald, is to cool the area as quickly as possible, ideally in the first minute.

Pouring cold water or a cold drink over the affected part is a start, cola, squash, milk, or even beer will do.

Then get the casualty to the nearest tap and get the water flowing over the burn.

This will help to alleviate the pain and help prevent scarring.

If the burn is large and blistered, cover it with a non-fluffy dressing, clean plastic bag.

Cling film is excellent for this since it doesn’t stick and forms an airtight seal around the burn.

Get the casualty to hospital as quickly as possible .

A is for Airways

So, the dangers of cutting and cooking the food has passed.

Everyone’s finally enjoying their barbecue meal, suddenly you see one of your guests frantically pointing to their throat.

They can’t breath and are apparently choking on some food.

First, ask them if they’re choking, and if they nod that they are, encourage them to cough.

If they can’t cough, lean them forward and firmly slap them firmly with the palm of your hand 5 times between the shoulder blades, until the obstruction is cleared.

If they still can’t breathe, you need to attempt abdominal thrusts.

Stand behind the choking person, put your arms around them, make a fist with one hand and grasp it with the other hand, then pull sharply upwards and inwards between their navel and breastbone.

Do this five times in quick succession.

If this doesn’t work, call 999 / 112 immediately. Then repeat the 5 back slaps, then the 5 thrusts, keep repeating this cycle until either the obstruction moves or the person collapses.

If they fall to the ground and stop breathing start CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) immediately and call for a defibrillator.

Whenever abdominal thrusts have been administered, the casualty must be checked out at a hospital in case internal organs have been damaged.

So, you now know how to tackle three of the most typical barbecue first aid emergencies.

If you’d like to learn more about how to help save a life with first aid training, simply click here

Have a great barbecue.

 

CPR First Aid Training

Giving you the confidence to act in an emergency

Heat Stroke is a killer

Heat Stroke can be fatal.

Heat Stroke is when your body’s core temperature rises above 40°C (104°F) .

This is an extremely dangerous situation where heat exhaustion progresses to a life-threatening condition.

Your body’s cells begin to break down and important organs stop working.

  • You will be sweating heavily but this will stop suddenly, your body has no more water to excrete.
  • Your body is now overheated and dangerously dehydrated
  • You will have rapid shallow breathing (hyper-ventilating)
  • Your heart-rate will become rapid and you will begin to suffer muscle cramps.
  • You become mentally confused,  and will loose consciousness.
  • You are now in critical danger and need to seek treatment immediately
  • Without treatment you will develop, multiple organ failure, brain damage and die.

This is much more serious than Heat Exhaustion

Signs and symptoms of Heat Stroke

  • High body temperature 40°C (104°F)
  • Heavy and profuse sweating which suddenly stops – your body is unable to produce more sweat and has become over heated and dehydrated
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Cramps in your muscles

What to do for someone with Heat Stroke

  • Move the person to a cool area
  • Give them as much air as possible – open windows, use air-conditioning or a fan
  • Give them plenty to drink
  • Do NOT give them any form of medication – painkillers etc.
  • Shower the skin with cool, not cold water, immerse them in a cool bath, or cover them with cold wet towels or sheets and direct a fan over them to create evaporation
  • Gently massage the skin to encourage circulation
  • Beware they may start to have a fit or seizure, remove all danger and support them from injury.
  • If they start to have a seizure do not put anything in their mouth
  • If they loose consciousness and begin to vomit, protect their airway by putting them in the recovery position
  • Call 999 / 112 for an ambulance
  • If they stop breathing begin Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation