A few blog posts ago, I wrote about how I wish schools taught us more life skills. Since then, I’ve realized that many schools are unwilling to budge from their rigid curriculums and the only way for many teenagers to learn basic skills is by seeking the knowledge out themselves, I’ve decided to start a life skills class right here.
Once a week, one of my blog posts will feature a basic life skill I think will be helpful for a young adult who’s just learning to live on their own. Now, obviously there are very many things I cannot teach through a blog post, but I can try! Today’s lesson: what to do when someone collapses in front of you.

 

I live in a country where temperatures soar. It gets crazy hot over here and kids who pass out aren’t uncommon. We get a few a week at my school during the summer months. Luckily, we have two nurses on staff who are ready to deal with a problem, but what if someone were in a situation where there wasn’t any help?

Full disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. This is what I learned in a short first aid course.

First, you wanna make sure the person is actually unconscious and not just taking a nap in an awkward place. Try calling out and tapping them on the shoulder. If they do not respond, check for breathing.

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If no breathing sounds are found, position yourself at the person’s head and tilt their chin backward very gently. This will clear their airway. In some cases this may be enough to start their breathing again.

If breathing does not restart, call emergency services. If you are certified in CPR, start compressions now. You might want to try hands-only CPR if the person is a stranger and you don’t want to risk getting any illnesses they may have.

CPR is a simple procedure that you can learn on YouTube. Lock your fingers together, palm of one hand against the back of the other, and press down firmly in the center of the chest. Push down with your entire body and not just your arms, otherwise you risk injuring yourself. Switch places with someone else if you can to avoid getting too tired.

The tricky part is learning how much pressure to apply; too little is almost ineffective, but too much could break a rib. Still, any CPR is better than no CPR. A CPR practice dummy helps with this. The dummy clicks when the right amount of pressure is applied. They can be found online.

Continue compressions until emergency services arrives and then step back and let them do their jobs. Some public places have started stocking defibrillators. They’re designed to be used by anyone and will have instructions. If someone can bring you the nearest one it can be very helpful.

If you suspect the person may have a spinal injury, avoid moving the spine and neck. To open the airway, position yourself at the top of their head. Place your hands on either side of their face and use your fingers to gently push apart their jaw.

This technique could potentially save a life and is an essential skill to have. First Aid is a very broad subject that can only be taught perfectly in person by a trained professional. I’d advise everyone to look into enrolling in one. Hospitals and community centers sometimes offer them for free.

 

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