OUR OPINION: Time for Mississippians to brush up on first aid

Published 4:00 am Saturday, August 14, 2021

Editor’s note: This opinion piece is not intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your doctor or call 911 in the event of a medical emergency.

Mississippi’s hospitals are overrun thanks to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations — so much so that health care systems might be forced to refuse service to non-COVID patients in need.

Our local medical professionals are going above and beyond to provide the best quality of service to those in need, but they’re being overrun.

The public has been advised not to go to the hospital unless you’re critically ill. With that in mind, we thought we’d compile a few life-saving tips and tricks to try before heading to the emergency room.

A variety of conditions can require medical attention, from flesh wounds to heart attacks and strokes. Brush up on your survival skills, guys and gals — we hope you’ve got your first aid merit badge.

If you or someone around you is bleeding, it’s important to identify where the blood is coming from in order to determine its severity. According to Very Well Health, bleeding from capillaries, the smallest blood vessels, looks like a trickle and will usually stop on its own. A consistent blood flow and blood that’s a dark red color is most likely coming from the veins. It can result in anywhere from mild to severe bleeding that can be rapid. Arteries are the largest blood vessels and are under pressure, so blood spurts from the wound. It’s also bright red, as it carries more oxygen. Blood can be lost most rapidly from an arterial bleed and it’s always considered an emergency.

Too much blood loss can send the body into shock and even result in death. In order to treat bleeding, it’s advised that you rinse the wound with water, cover it with gauze or a cloth, apply direct pressure and elevate the wound above the heart when possible.

If the bleeding still doesn’t stop, call 911 or get someone to drive the injured person to the hospital. Hopefully, they’ll have the resources to save them.

It is also wise to brush up on basic life-saving techniques in the event someone loses consciousness. Knowing the ABCs of CPR could be the difference between life or death: Airway, Breathing, Circulation.

Make sure the person’s airway is clear. If it’s clear and they’re still not breathing, provide rescue breaths. Chest compressions to keep blood circulating should be performed along with rescue breathing. If the person is breathing but unresponsive, check their pulse to see if their heart has stopped. If so, keep administering chest compressions at about 60 beats per minute to keep blood circulating.

According to the American Heart Association, the warning signs of a heart attack include: pain in the chest; lightheadedness, nausea or vomiting; jaw, neck or back pain; pain in arm or shoulder and shortness of breath.

If you suspect a heart attack, call 911. Patients who arrive by ambulance usually get faster treatment at the hospital than those who don’t. Hopefully, you’ll be seen in time to save your life.

Strokes can be identified using the acronym FAST: Facial drooping, arm weakness, slurred speech and time to call 911. If you notice any of these symptoms, hopefully, first responders can get to you in time.

Let’s also hope no one gets severely burned, or shot, or goes into diabetic shock, or has a kidney stone or a burst appendix during this wave of the pandemic.

Mississippi is the unhealthiest state in the country. We have the poorest quality of life for children. And, unfortunately, we are overrun with COVID-19 cases because people don’t want the vaccine.

That’s fine — receiving the vaccine is a personal choice. But remember, every choice you make has consequences. In this case, the consequence is obvious: More coronavirus hospitalizations means fewer emergency medical services for those with non-COVID medical needs.

It’s all fun and games until your loved one has a heart attack in the ER waiting room.