Continuing through our "Stop the bleeding, start the breathing, treat for shock" discussion from a few weeks ago, today we'll cover breathing.
If a trauma patient is having difficulty breathing they will show it! The average adult takes about 12-20 breaths per minute and takes those breaths easily with little-to-no effort.
Injuries to the chest wall, whether through penetrating forces (i.e. gunshot wounds, flying debris/shrapnel, stab wounds, etc.) or blunt forces (i.e. the chest wall being hit with a steering wheel during a collision, or possibly the concussion from an explosion) can impact breathing in many and sometimes multiple ways. Common injuries that can affect breathing include rib fractures, collapsed lungs, lacerations or punctures to the diaphragm and some head injuries.
Field treatment of breathing injuries really focuses on three things for lay rescuers; maintaining the victim's airway through positioning and adjuncts (i.e. the Nasopharyngeal Airway or NPA), helping the victim remain as calm as possible while taking deep, deliberate breaths and finally sealing all penetrating injuries to the chest wall from air-entry through the wound(s).
A few general considerations; keep conscious victims in the position most comfortable for them. Put unconscious victims in the "recovery position." Use occlusive dressings/seals for all penetrating injuries to the chest wall area (any holes between the collar bones and navel (belly button) on the front, sides and back. Get emergency services to the victim and/or get the victim to a medical treatment facility as soon as possible.
Come train with us to get more in-depth with the knowledge and skills needed to manage victims with breathing related injuries, plus so much more!
Be safe out there!