Monday, June 27, 2016

Why you should always have a first-aid kit handy...

...and why it needs more than band-aids and antibiotic.

This needs to start with a comment by Roger:

Short version: while helping my daughter get a bunch of tree trimmings and trunk cut up, a machete glanced in a really bad direction and sliced my leg.

 To put the following events in sequence:
  1. I grabbed the cut with my left hand and put pressure on it*, 
  2. which slowed the bleeding considerably, 
  3. and set the machete down with the right hand while thinking "Aw, crap, how bad is it and how much time will THIS eat up?".
* Various people, including a doc or two, in the past have said 'Direct pressure is better than most bleeding-stopping stuff.** ' Having had that stuck in my head, it was the first thing I did. The gloves I was wearing now look like something found at a crime scene, but it worked.

** Yes, I have some Celox gauze and pads in the kit; if the pressure hadn't worked, I'd have used one.

Daughter went for the first-aid kit in her house.. which turned out not to have any gauze or tape. "Look in my truck in [this spot] and grab my kit." I said. I've had a kit of some sort in the truck for years; in the past, the most I've used from it was antibiotic or burn gel and a band-aid. This is the first time I've been around a more serious injury, and I was really glad to have it handy.

I used the water she'd brought to clean off the wound (the bleeding was down to just a drip at this point), then dried the area, then put a folded 4"x4" gauze pad over it. This was then taped tightly (another time when pressure is your friend) over the wound. 

That pretty much stopped the bleeding while we went to an urgent-care office, where the wound was examined (both in general and to make sure the damage wasn't deep enough or bad enough that it would require a hospital and not just stitches), cleaned far more thoroughly, numbed, and stitched up. Which, due to the angle as well as depth, required a bunch of stitches.

So I'm sitting here now, trying to figure out how to keep my leg propped-up and still be able to type, and going over things.

Things Learned:
  1. I have nothing like sterile saline for washing an injury. At home that's no problem; I'll just get a bottle and keep it in the drawer with the house kit. For the truck, I'll have to figure where and how to keep it, because it won't fit in the bag.
  2. I should've had twice as many 4x4 pads in the kit (this has now been remedied). Happily, the two in the kit took care of this, but if I'd needed more we'd have been using something less proper for the purpose.
  3. The tightly-taped gauze pad did a world of good for both preventing more bleeding, and keeping crap out of/off of the wound; in a situation where you can't hop in a vehicle and get to medical assistance, both these things could be critical.
  4. Yes, I have a surgical stapler in the kit; no, I did not think of using it for more than a second or two. In 'There is no help for a long ways/time' situations, it might be necessary, but not when there's proper assistance not far or long away. 
I'm sure there's something I'm missing, but those are the big ones.

If you don't have something in your vehicle, get something. It doesn't have to be fancy, and you can get a lot of things (gauze pads, gauze wrap, elastic bandage) at a dollar store, so it doesn't have to be expensive to get a lot of basic stuff for it. Later on I'll have some pictures of mine, but for now I'm going to find a better place to sit and prop this up.

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