There are many myths surrounding first aid and medical procedures that originate from the television. You can guarantee that on each and every course that I deliver, somebody will mention something that they have seen on television being in direct contrast to what I am training!
This is a difficult dilemma that I have. Most of the time I end up clearing up the mess that this can cause in the way of understanding of these processes and protocol. So, let’s take a look at the common myths that I hear about on a day to day basis.
- CPR brings people back from the dead! Incorrect – CPR keeps the brain oxygenated and that is it! It means that if somebody has a chance of survival then CPR is the reason.
- If somebody drowns then their lungs are full of water! Incorrect – Suffocation occurs leading to respiratory failure then arrest. Only prolonged time in the water will result in water in the lungs after the muscles have relaxed.
- If an unconscious person has no pulse then they are obviously dead! Errrrr, NO!! Incorrect – If you can’t find a pulse on an unconscious person then there may be a number of reasons. Maybe you just can’t find it! Some people can’t find their own pulse and they are normally alive! Also if a person is in cardiac arrest then there is not enough pressure to give a pulse, however they are definitely not dead. Only a doctor can diagnose death. These people need CPR urgently because breathing is absent, not the pulse!
- Choking protocol – Straight into the Heimlich manoeuvre! Whhhoooaaa!! Time out! Everybody remembers the film Mrs.Doubtfire – The scene in the restaurant where Mrs. Doubtfire saves a man’s life by performing this manoeuvre with the object flying out across the restaurant. Ok, so this is a very invasive procedure and shouldn’t be used initially, try up to 5 back blows first. If these are done hard enough you may dislodge the object.
- Nosebleeds – Pinch the top of the nose and lean back! Just no. The only thing that this will do is to encourage the casualty to swallow blood causing the stomach to eject its contents! Yuk! The correct protocol is to pinch the fleshy part of the nose closed and lean forward. The idea is to allow a clot to form which in turn would stop the nose bleed. 10 minutes is usually sufficient to treat a nosebleed.
- Tourniquets are required to treat a severe bleed – They do it on the TV all the time! If used incorrectly a tourniquet can cause serious tissue damage that can result in limb loss. Medical professionals have been trained in the use of this equipment and take into consideration a number of factors when using them. First aid treatment for a bleed is to employ direct pressure and elevation. If severe enough then emergency services should be called.
So how best can you learn the difference between fact and fiction? We suggest that you go on a first aid course. Encourage others to do so, talk about it, integrate it into your everyday lives; learn a skill that can be useful in your community. Seriously, in just two hours you can learn a skill that can ultimately be the difference between life and death.