Dr. Sachin Tapasvi, ‘A Stitch in Time Saves Nine’

“Help! Help!! Something has gone wrong. I have fallen down. I can’t move my leg!!!!” That is probably a cry that one would expect to hear when someone falls down and breaks a bone or dislocates a joint. In this blog I though I should share what one must do, in the unfortunate event of being faced with such a situation; Be it you or someone else in a public place. A fracture or a dislocation of any portion on the body is definitely a very painful event. What should one do to minimize further damage to the injured area ? How do you ensure safe and secure transfer of the person from the site of the accident to the nearest medical facility?

The initial response to such an injury is both physiological and psychological. The first response is that of panic and fear. Within no time, there gathers a huge crowd of on-lookers and this only creates more confusion and panic.Expert medical help can be called for but “first-aid” must be a community driven practice. As a responsible citizen, one must be ready to help the person in distress and assume the role of a leader. As a team leader, one must confidently take charge of the situation.There are legislations in place to protect such “good Samaritans” in our country from judicial proceedings or police harassment and encourage people to help someone in distress caused by a road accident.

As a good first step, immediately dispel the crowd that has gathered, by telling them that this person needs fresh air and oxygen and the presence of so many people is likely to cause further suffocation and panic. One must then do a quick assessment of the person to see if he is conscious and oriented, breathing normally, whether he can move his limbs and check for presence of any bleeding. One must try to talk to the injured person and reassure him that the situation is under control, and that he/she will be provided every possible help.

The second important thing as a leader is to identify two, three or four people who would help in the situation. Friends or family of the person are a priority when seeking such help. Take them aside and give them the necessary instructions so as to carry out a smooth transfer. If there is suspicion of a fracture or dislocation of a major bone or joint where the limb will be deformed, or if the patient is not moving his limbs but is conscious, it is worthwhile to call for an ambulance to transfer the patient safely to a hospital. The 108 Ambulance of Maharashtra Government is a very good service that one can rely upon. However, any help which can be available at the earliest must be called for in the “golden hour”. Attempting to lift the person and transport in a car or other vehicle is not advisable and is discouraged unless you are in a place or situation where professional help is not likely to arrive soon enough.

While waiting for such help to arrive, there are some simple DO’s and DONT’s to follow; If you find that there is major bleeding, application of pressure to the area can help reduce this bleeding and potentially save the person’s life or limb. Sometimes, the person maybe lying unconscious and not responding to oral commands. No attempt to “wake up” the person by shaking him must be made because this may worsen a possible spinal or head injury. Another scenario is when someone is trapped inside a vehicle after an accident. No attempt to retrieve this person by pulling out must be made because this can also lead to more trauma and pain to the person and not help at all! In such a situation, it is worthwhile to ask for expert help and wait for their arrival.

Another act which must not be done is to give lots of water or food to an injured person. He may be in need of an emergency surgery and anesthesia for that is safer when the stomach is empty.

So basically, you can be a hero too and save a needy person’s life. However,just remember not to do a lot of things you see “heroes” doing in the movies!

Till next week then, take good care of yourselves.

Dr Sachin Tapasvi

Dr Sachin Tapasvi

Dr Sachin Tapasvi is one of India’s leading joint replacement surgeons. He practises in Pune and has been awarded several fellowships with experience garnered internationally as well as in India. Dr Tapasvi writes every Wednesday on Pune365.
Dr Sachin Tapasvi