head injury symptoms

Halloween Head Injury Handbook

This week, many of us will be busy celebrating Halloween. It’s a time that’s usually filled with enough blood to make even us first aiders feel slightly nauseous! Thankfully, most of it is usually fake. However, Halloween can be a time when a massive amount of pressure is put on EMS. Many people forget that whilst they may be dressed as a superhero, they don’t actually have superhuman powers. So, this week we’ll be looking into one of the most serious injuries that can occur. Whilst things may go bump in the night this week, we sincerely hope that one of them is not your head. So, without further ado, let us fill you in on some essential tips for spotting head injury symptoms & signs.

Types of Head Injuries

There are a few different types of head injuries. We’ve listed the main ones below:

  • Concussion – this is when the brain is shaken
  • Cerebral Compression – when swelling or bleeding puts pressure on the brain.
  • Fracture – this is when the skull is cracked caused by fractures resulting from direct or indirect force.
  • Cerebral Contusion – bruising on the brain.

Head Injury Signs & Symptoms

Head injuries can happen very easily. Common causes include a blow to the head, car accidents or even falling. Not every head injury occurs as a result of direct impact to the skull, so you should always check for signs no matter the situation.

Some of the common head injury signs & symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Sickness
  • Dizziness
  • Watery blood coming from nose and ears
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Personality change
  • Headache
  • Pain

What to Do if You Suspect a Head Injury

If you spot a person exhibiting head injury signs & symptoms, you must alert the EMS. It is then your job to monitor the patient until they arrive.

Lay the patient down, and gently raise their head and shoulders by a few centimetres to relieve pressure on the brain.  Monitor vital signs.  No food.  No drink.  Stay with patient, and prevent them from sleeping.

What is the AVPU scale?

A patient may lose or fall in and out of consciousness after suffering a head injury. The AVPU scale is the scale that is used to determine whether or not a person is unconscious. AVPU is an acronym to help you remember the steps, which are as follows:

  • Alert – check whether the patient is alert, although not necessarily orientated.
  • Voice – Does the patient respond to voice?
  • Pain – are they responding to pain or touch?
  • Unresponsive – they are failing to respond to any of the above.

Head injuries can be very serious and result in severe trauma, so it’s important that you recognise them early. Although you cannot treat a head injury yourself, you can help the patient gain prompt access to medical care. Recognising head injury symptoms and signs is crucial. Remember that not all occur as a result of direct impact to the skull. They could just as easily be triggered by landing on your feet, with the impact transferring up through your body and damaging the brain.  Be aware that spinal injuries could be a result of this type of impact. It is your job as a first aider to recognise head injury symptoms & signs and monitor the patient’s wellbeing until EMS arrives.  Recognising these symptoms could help you to become someone’s superhero – with or without the costume. Keep it in mind this Halloween.

heart attack symptoms

Affairs of the Heart: How to Spot the Signs of a Heart Attack

A heart attack can lead to Sudden Cardiac Arrest, the most common cause of death in the United Kingdom. This week, we celebrated Restart a Heart Day. It is a day dedicated to the awareness of CPR training. CPR or ‘Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation’ is used when the heart has gone into cardiac arrest. Although a heart attack is not the same as cardiac arrest, it is very serious. It signals that the heart is in serious trauma, meaning that it may stop at any time. Knowing the main heart attack symptoms allows you to seek treatment earlier. The earlier a patient receives treatment, the higher their chance of survival is.

What Causes a Heart Attack?

A heart attack is caused by a blockage or restriction of blood to the heart. It results in a starvation of oxygenated blood to the heart and body, which then causes the trauma we mentioned above. Blockages are more common in arteries that have been narrowed by a build-up of plaque, which is made up of cholesterol particles. Poor nutrition and lack of exercise contribute to high cholesterol, which is why it is so important to live a healthy lifestyle.

Never Delay Treatment

One of the biggest problems when dealing with a heart attack is that people brush off common heart attack symptoms as something else. Many of the earlier signs can easily be explained away as something minor. Therefore, treatment is delayed and more damage is done. By spotting the signs early, you may be able to provide the patient with the best chance of recovery.

Heart Attack Symptoms

One of the first things that people experience during a heart attack is chest pain. Although this seems like an obvious warning sign, many still discount it. Not all heart attacks start with a severe gripping pain in your chest. It can feel like indigestion, which it is commonly mistaken for. However, the pain can swiftly radiate from your neck to your jaw and down one arm – usually your left.

Dizziness and nausea can swiftly follow. Again, many people shirk this off as the beginnings of a virus. Someone experiencing a heart attack may display signs of becoming pale grey and will often have sweaty skin. These signs are often accompanied by other symptoms including difficulty in breathing and a rapid, irregular pulse. Many of the symptoms above mirror those associated with other conditions; such as indigestion, stress or a panic attack. Yet, they are signs that your body is imploring you to get help. Do not ignore them. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

First Aid for Heart Attacks

If someone is experiencing heart attack symptoms, it is crucial that you immediately contact the Emergency Medical Services. Whilst you wait for their arrival, it is important that you try to keep the patient calm. Loosen clothing and place them in a position where their back is against a flat surface, such as a wall, and their knees are raised with feet flat on the floor. If the patient can speak, ask them if they have medication for angina. If so, assist them to take it. Also, ask if they are allergic to aspirin, or if they’ve been prescribed any blood-thinning medication. If not allergic and you have some at hand, advise them that chewing ONE 300mg aspirin tablet can be useful for adults. Whilst you are doing this, be sure that you are monitoring their vital signs, particularly breathing and circulation.

When is CPR required?

We mentioned above that we recently celebrated Restart a Heart Day, to help train more people in CPR. This is because, during cardiac arrest, any time that the body spends without oxygen lessens a person’s chance of survival. Cardiac arrest is when the heart stops, which can happen at any time during a heart attack. If a person’s heart attack symptoms have become so severe that they fall unconscious and stop breathing, it is time to perform CPR. It is important to remember that in a case of cardiac arrest, CPR, on its own, will not ‘restart’ the heart. If possible, obtain an AED unit to deliver a shock, but do not leave the patient to go looking for one. The EMS will have one when they arrive.

Recognising common heart attack symptoms is crucial in getting a person early access to medical treatment. Delaying treatment increases the chance of the patient falling into cardiac arrest. Unfortunately, 60% of the UK population has not been trained in CPR which means many people die needlessly as a result of this lack of training. We want to change this. Learning how to effectively carry out CPR and use AED units, come as part of our training courses. Every workplace should have a person with these skills, should the worst happen. It is a vital part of keeping your employees safe.

For information on any of our first aid or health and safety courses, get in touch. We even offer a free consultation, to help you best assess the needs of your premises.

baby loss

Baby Loss Awareness Week: The Importance of Speaking Out

This week is Baby Loss Awareness Week. It is hosted every year by the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity (SANDS). The aim of the awareness week is help remove the taboo which surrounds discussing the loss of a child. By creating a discussion, not only do we bring baby loss parents out of isolation but we can also learn. This week is a time to learn how we can stop more parents from suffering the heartache. We can also learn how we can better support those who have been bereaved.

Raising Awareness

Today, Thursday 13th October, a House of Commons Chamber debate will take place on baby loss. Two MPs who have been personally affected asked fellow baby loss parents to share their thoughts and experiences on Twitter using the hashtag #babylossdebate. The digital debate was originally scheduled for Monday 10th October. However, it is still on-going. The topics raised in the digital debate will also be raised in today’s HOC debate.

A Time to Share and Learn

One of the main issues that has been raised in the digital debate is that more awareness is needed of the signs that a baby is in distress. A greater level of awareness can help flag potential problems before it is too late. Whilst charities such as Kicks Count, give parents-to-be lots of important pregnancy information, not everyone is aware of their existence. There has to be a greater drive by the Government to put systems in place which allows this information to be easily obtained by expectant families.

Another key issue is surrounding support for baby loss parents. Recently on our social channels, we have been highlighting the importance of a greater level of training in mental health first aid. A greater level of awareness of how to aid another in times of mental ill-health ultimately leads to better support.   We believe it to be no less important that healthcare professionals receive bereavement training, to give bereaved parents the same support that they need.

A horrific experience can be made so much worse by an ill-advised comment or a lack of understanding by those who should be there to support. Neonatal loss is sadly not a myth. It is a tragedy which happens all too often, so healthcare staff should be briefed.

This awareness week is a time to remember, to share, to listen and to learn. It is imperative that Parliament listens to the digital debate and uses its time on Thursday to make positive changes. Talking about the loss of a baby should not be a taboo subject. Affected parents should not suffer in isolation. By bringing the subject out into the open, we can learn how to do things better; how to better help a baby loss parents and how to stop preventable losses.