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 Ski Resources | Ski Safety | First Aid for Winter Sports
 

 

  First Aid for Winter Sports
We can find that extreme sports are similar to extreme emotion. Every charge of adrenaline that one has when somebody rides the ski or snowboard involves risk of losing the balance or falling down. The risk is enlarged even more if one goes out the snow resorts and one enter to other site. There one is more or less in his or her own, so that if an accident happens, help may not immediately be on the way.
Our intention is to teach you about the types different of "First Aid" for the different kinds of accident that you or your partner might experience in the outdoor. In that way, you will know how to respond to any possible situation given to you, instead of merely panicking.

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The Essential Basics about first aid
- Bleedings and Applying a Tourniquet
- Applying a Splint in case of Fractures
- Frostbite
- Hypothermia
- Neck Injuries and Spinal Injuries
- Sprains

 
 The Essential Basics about first aid

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It is very important that you know all the related about first aid. You should take your time to learn the instructions or tips to assure you have some basic knowledge. Of this way, you can confront and help to somebody in some accident.

The basics

  • Don't lose the calm and control Don't add more tension to the situation. The victim and the incidents will previously cause a tense situation do nothing to add to the tension but try to calm it down instead.
     
  • DR. ABC The letters in DR.ABC tell you the basics of what you should do in a First Aid situation:
       
    • D - Danger Check the danger and source of the injury inflicted to the victim. Make sure the danger has passed and the surrounding are safe. There is no use of becoming a victim yourself. Assess the situation.
    • R - Response Check the Response of the victim by simply asking them how they are. If they can answer your question then that tells you that the victim is conscious, breathing and that the heart is working. If the victim is unable to response move onto the ABC:
    • A - Airway Make sure that the victim has an open airway. Tilting the head back with the chin facing up will clear an airway.
    • B - Breathing Make sure that the victim is breathing by looking at breathing signs, listening to exhales and feeling air coming out of the mouth or nose.
    • C - Circulation Make sure that the victim has blood circulation. Check for a pulse and visual signs such as complexion and blinking of the eyes.
  • Send for Professional Help If there are a lot of persons designate one person to call for aid. If you have a mobile telephone or other way of reaching the outside world, use it. Explain clearly and calmly the location of the accident and the condition of the victim.


 

 Bleedings and Applying a Tourniquet

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The bleedings look very serious and these cause panic both to the victim and the person who tries to help. It is important to remain calm and comfort the victim. There are two kinds of bleedings:

External Bleeding
Bleedings can be caused by numerous incidents and can range from a small cut to severed arteries. Analyze the bleeding:

  • Dark red blood coming out in a steady slow flow indicates a severed vein.
  • Bright red blood coming out in spurts or a heavy steady flow indicates a severed artery. This is a serious kind of bleeding as a lot of blood can be lost rapidly.

Do the following:

  • Place clean cloth over the wound and firmly apply pressure. If the blood soaks through the cloth do not replace it but add more cloth to the cloth already placed. Apply pressure for 7-10 minutes.
  • If possible, elevate the wound and position it above the level of the heart.
  • Apply pressure to a pressure point on a major artery using your fingers, hand or heel of your foot. Pressure the artery between your fingers and the bone behind the artery.
  • If all above methods do not stop the bleeding and there is a chance that the victim dies of blood loss apply a tourniquet (see details below).
  • Get the victim to medical professional as soon as possible.

Internal Bleeding
Internal bleeding is more difficult to recognize. Try to look for the following:

  • Vomiting or coughing up blood
  • Blood in the stools or urine
  • Blood from the ears, nose or mouth
  • Abdominal swelling and/or pain and tenderness in the abdomen
  • Pale skin
  • Excessive thirst
  • Possible restlessness, apprehension and mental confusion
  • Shock

Do the following:

  • Keep the victim lying down flat with the head elevated. If the victim needs to vomit turn the head sideways.
  • Keep the victim covered and warm
  • Check the victims vital signs and wait for the medical professionals to arrive
Applying a Tourniquet
  • Find a strip of cloth, belt or another piece of flat flexible material that is at least two inches wide and is long enough to be wrapped around the limb twice. This will be the tourniquet.
  • Place the tourniquet just above the wound between the wound and the rest of the body. Wrap it twice around the limb.
  • Tie a half know with the tourniquet. Place a stick or other straight object on top of the knot and tie a full knot with the stick or object.
  • Twist the stick to tighten the tourniquet around the limb. Keep on turning until the bleeding ceases. Secure the stick in place.
  • Do not loosen or remove the tourniquet until the victim has reached professional medical help
  • Make sure to write down the exact time the tournequet was applied so medical professionals will know how long it has been in place. Do not cover the tourniquet and tell the medical professionals of its placement. To make sure mark a T on the forehead of the victim.
  • Stay with the victim and assure yourself that the victim does not go into shock or cardiac arrest.

 Applying a Splint in case of Fractures

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If the victim complains about extreme pain at a certain area you should check for a fracture:

  • Ask if the victim heard or felt a bone snap
  • Check if the victim is able to move the inflicted body part
  • Check for deformities
  • Check for swelling
  • Check for discoloration of the skin

If bone is sticking out of the skin then you are dealing with a compound fracture. Compound fractures are very serious injuries that may cause serious bleeding.

  • Do not apply too much pressure to stop the bleeding
  • Cover the wound with a sterile pad or cloth if available
  • Do not push the bone back or try to re-align the fracture. Instead apply a splint to prevent further injury
  • Do not move the victim but wait for professional assistance. Keep the victim warm and comfort him/her

Applying a Splint

  • Find a rigid straight object that is longer than the bone and joint that you are going to support. You are going to be using this as the splint.
  • Cover any broken skin with a sterile cloth. Pad the splint with softer materials such as cloth.
  • Tie the splint to the injured limb using tape or rope. Make sure the splint is tight but not so tight that it cuts of blood circulation of the victim. Make sure the splint is applied in a way that prevents the limb from further movement or strain.
  • If available, place an icebag over the splinted break area. Do not place it directly on the skin or wound but cover it with cloth.


 

 Frostbite

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Frostbite occurs when body parts are exposed to extreme cold for a period of time. Toes, fingers, earlobes, chin, cheeks and nose run the most risk of frostbite as they are often not protected by clothing. When the body is exposed to extreme cold the blood vessels constrict. As the body part starts to loose warmth the fluid within the cells start to freeze and form ice crystals. These crystals causse the cells to rupture.
The best way to prevent frostbite is simply to stay warm. Make sure to wear proper clothing using layers to stay warm and dry. If you are in a very cold environment check your body for numbness.

Frostbite occurs in a couple of stages:

  • Frostnip The skin feels stiff and numb and is white in color. Underneath the tissue is still warm and soft. The condition is not that serious, simply warm the body part by rubbing, moving and covering with extra layers of clothing. Frostnip does not require any medical attention. Check for frostnip often as it is the first step to frostbite.
     
  • Superficial Frostbite After frostnip comes superficial frostbite. The skins is hard and frozen and looks white/blue. The tissue underneath the skin has not been affected yet. Superficial frostbite will cause blistering and medical attention is needed to prevent permanent injury.
     
  • Deep Frostbite In case of further freezing the tissue underneath the skin will get affected as well. The skin is white/blue and totally frozen and the tissue is hard as well. Deep frostbite needs immediate medical attention. In severe cases deep frostbite can lead to permanent injury, amputation and even death.

Treating Frostbite

  • Get the victim away from the cold source as soon as possible and if possible take the victim inside. If possible take the victim to the emergency room as soon as possible.
  • Do not start thawing the affected area if there is a chance that the area may refreeze. Thawing and refreezing will cause severe tissue damage.
  • Immerse the affected area in warm water (40 degrees celcius). If no warm water is available wrap the area in warm blanckets gently. Do not rub the skin with your hands or other materials.
  • The affected area will feel numb so make sure that the victim has no control over the heat source. Do not let the victim determine the temperature of the water and do not use direct heat sources such as a fire or heating pad.
  • As the body part thaws feeling may come back causing a lot of discomfort to the patient. Make sure blisteres remain untouched.
It is important to know how you should take care of yourself when you go out for fun and adventure. There are many possible situations that may occur.

 

 Hypothermia

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Hypothermia is serious life threatening condition that can occur to people who expose themselves to extreme cold too long. Prevention is simple: keep yourself warm and dry using layers and the correct gear for the activity your are going to undertake. Avoid exposing yourself to extreme temperatures all together.

First Aid Treatment
It is essential to call for medical professionals as soon as possible. The most important phase of treatment is the prevention of post-rescue collapse during the first 30 minutes following rescue, and during transportation to a medical facility:

  • After drop A further cooling of core temperature occurs after the victim is removed from the cold environment. This after-drop is often responsible for post-rescue collapse.
     
  • Pre hospital stabilization Preventing respiratory heat loss and progressive cooling, of the heart through the tissues is essential. This cooling if not arrested, can lead to ventricular fibrillation of the heart. Patients who are unconscious, with a temperature below 30C or 80F, may not respond to defibrillation. Thermally stabilizing a patient with suitable equipment is necessary, both before transportation and enroute to the hospital to prevent additional cardiac complications.
     
  • Core rewarming This is the most effective treatment for all cases of moderate to severe hypothermia, whether treatment occurs in the hospital or in the field.
     
  • Inhalation rewarming As the only non-invasive hospital treatment suitable for active core rewarming in the field, inhalation rewarming donates heat directly to the head, neck, and thoracic core (the critical core) through inhalation of warm, water-saturated air at 43 - 45C (107 - 122F). This method also warms the hypothalemus, the temperature regulation center, the respiratory center, and the cardiac center at the base of the brainstem. In many cases, this rewarming of the central nervous system at the brainstem reverses the cold-induced depression of the respiratory centers and improves the level of consciousness.
    Beside this strategic donation of heat, inhalation rewarming also eliminates Respiratory heat loss. This accounts for 10% to 30% of the body's heat loss. This is particularly important in rescue situations where the ambient air is cold.
    In summary, inhalation rewarming is highly effective in providing "basic life support" through thermally stabilizing the core and brainstem temperatures. It is safe for treatment for all levels of hypothermia, but is particularly important for severe cases, because insulating alone (blankets), does not prevent further cooling of the core.

The first half hour during rescue is the most critical phase of hypothermia management. Avoid having the victim assist with their own rescue. Muscular activity by the hypothermic victim pumps cold peripheral blood from the arms and legs into the central circulation causing the core temperature to drop even further. Gentle handling is critical! A cold heart is particular susceptible to ventricular fibrillation, and some victims may suffer fatal ventriculation when jolted about during initial handling or transportation.


 

 Neck Injuries and Spinal Injuries

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Neck and spine injuries are very serious injuries that can lead to paralysis and even death. If you are in a first aid situation where the victim has possible neck and/or spine injuries be very carefull. In serious cases the spinal cord could be severed resulting in paralysis. The extent of paralysis will depend upon the height of the spinal injury. The closer to the neck, the more extensive the paralysis.

Signs of neck and/or spinal injury:

  • Check if the victim's head or neck look deformed or in an odd position.
  • Check if the victim is feeling pain in the neck or across the spine.
  • Check if the victim is feeling numbness, tingling or weakness in legs, arms or other body parts. These are a clear sign of spinal injury.
  • Check for paralysis by actually pinching extremities such as finger and toes to check that the victim has feeling in those body parts. Ask the victim to squeeze your hand, move his feet, etec. If the victim is able to perform these operations then there is probably no spinal injury.
  • If there is the slightest chance of spinal injury, take all precautions and assume the worst.

Treatment

  • Send for medical assistance as soon as possible.
  • Do not move the victim in any way and restrict the victim from moving himself. Even if the victim is in the water, try to stabilize the neck and back without moving the victim. If there is time wait for the medical assistance to arrive and let them take over. If this is not possible immobilize the neck and back using any tools that you might have to your disposal. Keep the head from making any rolling, sideways or up and down movement.
  • Check constantly for vital signs and signs of shock. Keep the victim warm.

 

 Sprains

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Sprains are an injury in which a joint is forced past its normal range of motion resulting in overstretching or tearing of the ligaments. Strains are stretching or tearing of a muscle or muscle tendon. It is often hard to distinguish between a bone fracture, ligament sprain or muscle strain.

Assess the seriousness of the injury:

  • Did the victim hear a snapping sound or feel the breaking of a bone?
  • Are there any visible deformities?
  • Are there signs of hemorrhaging?
  • Is there increased joint laxity of the injured body part?
  • Is the patient able to move the injured body part?
  • How bad is the pain the victim is experiencing?
  • How bad is the de-colouring of the area and the swelling?

Answering these questions will help you determine how serious the injury is and if you are dealing with a fracture, strain or sprain. If it is apparent that a fracture has occurred then refer to the Fractures section.

Initial Care

  • Immobilize the injured body part Make sure the victim does not move the injured body part. Use a splint or crutches to prevent further injury.
     
  • Raise the injured body part This will reduce the swelling by draining fluids from the swollen area.
     
  • Apply Ice Cooling Apply ice to injured body part. Do not let the ice make contact with the skin directly, cover it with a cloth or plastic to prevent frostbite. Cooling the injured limb will reduce the swelling and numb the area. Do not apply ice for longer than 20 minutes at an end and stop application when the area is numb. Use 20 minute intervals with the ice on and off for the first 72 hours of treatment.
     
  • Compression Wrap the injured body part in an ace wrap using elastic bandages. Make it snug but not so tight that it cuts of circulation.
     
  • Warm Compresses The ice will numb the pain and reduce the initial swelling. After the first 72 hours you should use warmth instead of cold. Warmth will help the healing process. Use warm compresses.

Recovery

  • Normal Activity Try to maintain normal activity during recovery. Circulation and movement will help the healing process. Slight discomfort is alright but make sure not to push it.
     
  • Follow up Treatment Make sure that there are signs of healing. If the injured body part remains painfull and swolen seek medical advise.

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