I recently acquired my EMT certification. I am a firm believer in first aid training, and this gave me an idea for a new series of articles. Throughout this series I will go over some basic concepts and treatment options with regards to first aid. It should be noted that most States require some form of certification for you to treat people (depending on the intervention), and these articles in no way qualifies as “official training”. I am going to use the EMS Rapid Deployment Kit from North American Rescue as my tool bag. As articles progress we will draw equipment from this bag and learn how/when they can be used. Additionally, if there is something specific you want information about just let us know in the Comms Check section (at the bottom), and I will try to put together an article specific to your requests.
We have all seen the movies (and News) where the hero rescues the casualty and without hesitation immediately renders care. What we were taught during my EMT training was that our (the rescuer) safety was first and this included BSI (body substance isolation), and actual scene safety. Each scenario I was tested on I had to say the words, “scene safe, BSI”. If I didn’t demonstrate this, then the practical test would result in a fail. What’s the big deal with BSI and scene safety?
Scene safety is pretty straight forward, if it’s dangerous you may need to wait before you can help someone. In some cases you may need to wait for Law Enforcement to tell you it’s safe to proceed. Let’s say there is a bad car accident where one car struck a telephone pole sending live wires to the ground where they are arcing. Would it make sense to rush in there and try to bandage someone? It would make even less sense if you are the most qualified emergency medical person, others may need your help.
My instructor brought up a really great point, “it’s not our emergency, it’s theirs”. What he meant by this is you shouldn’t be in a frenzy when you are trying to help someone. Be in control at all times, even when it’s chaotic around you. The only caveat I will add to scene safety is assumed risk. If it’s my kid who is hurt, you better believe I am going to find a way to get there regardless of the danger to myself.
What is BSI? It keeps us (the rescuer), the patient and those we care about (family/friends) safe. In short, BSI is equipment which protects you from a patients bodily fluids (blood, etc.). At a minimum we were required to wear eye protection, and gloves during every exercise. BSI can range from gloves, all the way to a hazmat suit with self-contained breathing apparatus. It will all depend on the situation, and the risk you are willing to assume by treating someone.
EMS Rapid Deployment Kit
The BSI offered in the EMS Rapid Deployment kit includes; Cyclone Pocket BVM (Bag Value Mask), and 5 X Bear Claw Nitrile Trauma Gloves (pair). I don’t want to get into the weeds of what the BVM is for (that will be a later article), but in terms of BSI it allows you to ventilate a patient without using your mouth. There are other devices with do similar things; pocket shield, pocket mask, but these will require you to use your own lung power whereas the BVM doesn’t (again we will get into this later). In addition to these items buying a good pair of eye protection is a good idea. When someone is coughing, sneezing, vomiting, or otherwise projecting their bodily fluids you really don’t want that entering your eyes.
What can you do without BSI?
It really depends on the risk you are willing to accept. You really need to be smart and remember it’s not your emergency. Perhaps directing a family member to hold pressure on a bleeding wound would work, or is some cases there have been modifications to treatment to where you can help without BSI. Hands-Only CPR is currently being taught around the nation (typically used for a witnessed sudden collapse of a teen/adult). It’s very basic consisting of two parts; one-call 911 (or direct someone else to), two-push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of 100-120 beats per min. We used the song “Staying Alive” to keep pace in our class. Everyone can benefit from first aid training regardless of their activities, be proactive and get your first aid training before you need it.
Just to reiterate, if there is something first aid (that I am capable of) related you want to see demonstrated, or written about please let us know in the Comms Check section below. I will do my best to address your questions/topics.
(Featured image courtesy of Narescue.com)