First Aid Response

What to do First
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First Aid Response

Rain fell from heavy clouds onto the Appalachian Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Five young backpackers were startled by the roar of an airplane that suddenly crashed into the trees near the trail.

They found the single-engine Cessna 172 upside down with fuel leaking from the ruptured tanks. The only passenger, the pilot, lay on the ground in terrible pain.

Scott, one of the backpackers, realized the immediate danger. He crawled carefully into the cockpit and shut off the electrical switches to reduce the risk of fire. A check of the pilot revealed his injuries: a broken leg and a severely damaged shoulder. The young rescuers moved the victim far from the danger of explosion, splinted his leg and shoulder, and made him as dry and comfortable as possible in the chilly rain. Two of the rescuers carried a message back down the trail to where they knew men with a radio could call for assistance. Park rangers came in with a litter, and everyone helped carry the pilot to a spot where a helicopter could land and carry him to a hospital where he recovered.

This is a true story from Boys' Life magazine, used with permission.

No matter what the emergency, the first thing to do is always the same: Think!!

Remember, the world's best first aid kit is between your ears. When there has been an accident, use that kit first.

What is going on in addition to the injury? Is this a safe place to be? Who is hurt? What kind of injury is it? Could it kill the person? Is it a special kind of injury—like a stopped heart that needs CPR right away, or a possible neck injury that shouldn't be moved except with great care?

Where is the victim? Back in the wilderness, where help is miles away? In the living room, where you can stay safe and warm while waiting for an ambulance? Or sprawled in the middle of a highway on a rainy night? The same injury requires different action in different places.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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