What to do in a medical emergency or accident

What to do in a medical emergency or accident

We all know that the most important thing to do in a medical emergency or accident is to call for help as quickly as possible. If you’re an EMERGIVAC member, this is as simple as activating the panic alert on your EMERGIVAC app. One of our highly qualified staff will talk you through exactly what to do while you wait for help to arrive. It never hurts to be prepared though, so we’ve put together some important info on first aid and medical emergencies to help you stay safe!


First Aid Basics for Common Injuries: Cuts, Burns, and Broken Bones

When it comes to treating minor injuries like cuts, scrapes, and burns at home, knowledge of basic first aid is key. Clean the wound with soap and water and apply pressure to stop any bleeding. Cover the injury with a bandage or sterile dressing and seek medical attention if necessary. For fractures or broken bones that can’t be splinted or set in place immediately, keep the injured area immobile until help arrives. 


Performing CPR 

Knowing how to properly perform cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) should be standard knowledge for everyone, as it can be used to save a life in the event of cardiac arrest. 


Here are some great videos to teach you the basics:


CPR on an adult

CPR on a child or infant:


Recognizing & Responding to a Heart Attack or Stroke

In the event of an individual suffering from a heart attack or stroke, the most important thing is to call for help right away and get medical attention. While waiting for help, pay close attention to signs such as chest pain (for heart attacks) or sudden weakness/numbness on one side of the body (for strokes).

How to recognise and respond to a heart attack

How to recognise and respond to a stroke 


Handling Bleeding Emergencies & Using Tourniquets

Excessive bleeding can be life-threatening if not addressed quickly. To control bleeding, apply direct pressure to the wound and consider using a tourniquet if necessary. Make sure you know how to properly tie a tourniquet and avoid tightening it too much.


Applying a torniquet with a windlass device

Responding To Choking Emergencies & Performing the Heimlich Manoeuvre

Choking is another common medical emergency that can be fatal if not treated promptly. If you are with someone who appears to be choking, start by doing five abdominal thrusts (aka the Heimlich manoeuvre). If it does not work, call for help immediately. 

Heimlich Manoeuvre

How to Heimlich video


Recognizing & Responding to Head Injuries

Head injuries can range from mild to severe, so prompt attention is essential when dealing with them. If the person is conscious, look for signs of confusion or loss of focus. Keep the person still and request medical assistance right away if you think they may have suffered a head injury. 


Here are some warning signs to be aware of:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Loss of consciousness or confusion
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Memory loss or difficulty concentrating
  • Mood changes or irritability
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Clear fluid or blood draining from the nose or ears
  • Bruising or swelling on the scalp
  • A bump, bruise, or cut on the head
  • A change in the size or shape of the skull
  • A severe headache that gets worse over time
  • A change in behaviour or consciousness, such as becoming unresponsive or agitated.


It’s also important to note that not all head injuries are immediately obvious, and someone with a head injury may not show symptoms for hours or even days after the injury. If you suspect that someone has a head injury and are waiting for help to arrive, here are some steps you can take:


  1. Keep the person still and comfortable: Do not move the person unless it is necessary for safety. Keep the person awake and alert if possible.
  2. Monitor vital signs: Check the person’s breathing, pulse, and level of consciousness. If the person stops breathing or becomes unresponsive, call emergency services immediately.
  3. Apply first aid: If there is bleeding, apply direct pressure to the wound. If the person has a bump or bruise on the head, apply ice to reduce swelling.
  4. Keep the person warm: Cover the person with a blanket or jacket to prevent hypothermia.
  5. Observe and document: Observe the person’s symptoms and take note of any changes. Keep a record of the time when the injury occurred and any first aid that was provided.


Creating a First Aid Kit & Preparing an Emergency Plan

It’s important to make sure that your home or car has a properly stocked first aid kit in case of any emergency. A basic first aid kit should include items such as bandages, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, scissors, adhesive bandages and gauze pads. Additionally, it’s important to create an emergency plan for your family so everyone knows what to do in case of an unexpected event. 


Snake Bites & Insect Stings, Heat Exhaustion & Heat Stroke

In case of snake bites or insect stings, it’s important to stay calm and seek medical attention as soon as possible. For heat-related emergencies like heat exhaustion or heat stroke, move the person to a cool place, give them plenty of water and seek medical attention if necessary. 


Emergencies During Pregnancy & Childbirth

Pregnant individuals should also be aware of possible medical emergencies and how to respond to them. Make sure you know where your nearest hospital is in case of an emergency during childbirth. Additionally, educate yourself on the warning signs of labour that may require immediate medical attention. 


Handling Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions can range from mild to life-threatening. If you or someone else experiences any kind of allergic reaction, administer epinephrine (if available) and call immediately for help. 


Know the signs of anaphylaxis in order to recognize a severe allergic reaction:

  • Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Hives or rash
  • Itching or tingling sensations in the skin
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing or hoarseness
  • Rapid heartbeat or palpitations
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Chest pain
  • Loss of consciousness


While you wait for help to arrive, you can:

  1. Keep the person still and comfortable: Help the person lie down and keep them still if possible. Elevate their feet if they are feeling dizzy or lightheaded.
  2. Loosen tight clothing: Remove any tight clothing, such as a collar, tie, or belt, to help the person breathe.
  3. Monitor vital signs: Check the person’s breathing, pulse, and level of consciousness. If the person stops breathing or becomes unresponsive, begin CPR immediately.


In conclusion 

Being prepared and knowing what to do in case of an emergency is essential for everyone. Knowing basic first aid can mean the difference between life and death during an unexpected event. It’s important to stay informed and up-to-date on first aid basics so that you can respond properly when necessary. There are many organisations in South Africa where you can do some basic first aid training


When you join EMERGIVAC, you get access to medical and trauma assist, as well as guaranteed private hospital admission, and even helicopter evacuation if the situation is serious enough. In an emergency, simply activate the panic alert on your app, and help will be on the way. Find out more about the many incredible benefits of joining EMERGIVAC, or check out our pricing page to find the plan that’s right for you and your family. 


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