Look Around You – How to act in an Emergency Scene
Unless you stay safe, you won’t be able to help others in their time of need, and you may suffer a serious injury yourself. While counting slowly to ten, look all around you, taking in as much detail as possible. Something as simple as twisting your ankle can mean you lose the ability to help the injured person. Leaning trees, loose limbs overhead, loose or falling rock, water hazards, animal hazards, hazardous materials, and storm hazards are some of the most common issues.
The world isn’t going to stand still while you’re administering first aid. All kinds of things can happen: other people may come on the scene and want to help; animals may show up to investigate; or weather conditions may suddenly change. This can interfere with your continued safety (and that of the person you are treating). So throughout your time on the scene, continue re-evaluating it.
For example, if you find that a swarm of hornets is buzzing about an unconscious person, you may not be able to approach her right away without succumbing to multiple stings, which could lead to your own emergency situation. Similarly, if you determine that a patient has been struck by a widow maker (a broken-off treetop or limb) and you identify more in the area, you should move the injured person out of harm’s way before beginning your assessment since one gust of wind the wrong way could lead to another widow maker falling—this time on you!
As you’re hiking along your favorite trail, you notice an individual lying across the trail, apparently unconscious. As you continue your approach, you shout out, asking if he’s okay while scanning the area for obvious hazards such as fallen limbs and loose debris signifying he may have tripped and fallen or obvious animal sign. You detect an unnatural odor of cucumber in the air. Upon reaching the patient, you notice two punctures on his ankle—denoting a snake bite. What should you do?
Certain snakes such as the copperhead emit a musk when touched. A strong odor of cucumber, which is what this musk resembles, would indicate the snake is still in the vicinity. So, your first reaction should be to inspect your surroundings and carefully move the injured person in case the snake has taken refuge under his collapsed body. In the event you cannot locate the snake but still perceive it to be close, it may be a good idea to move the person a short distance away to safety before administering first aid.