One moment they are walking beside you and the next minute they collapse like a pack of cards. So, what do you do? The idea of responding to a person who has fainted is daunting especially when you are alone.
Most of us are aware that we need to sprinkle water on the person who faints. We also think that making the person smell onions, garlic and shoes will awaken him/her. While these methods normally fail to awaken the person. Listed below are a few tips on how to handle a person who has fainted.
Support the person- Fainting is mostly a temporary loss of consciousness. So, when you notice a person fainting, hold them while they begin to fall and lay them down when they begin to complain of feeling light headed or dizzy. This doesn’t stop the fainting but prevents injury.
Survey the area- If you arrive at the scene to find a fallen, unconscious person, survey the area for danger quickly, without wasting much time. The person may have fainted due to electrocution from a live wire, inhalation of toxic fumes, excessive heat, poisoning, venomous bites or an accident. Then, move them away from the area of danger to prevent further damage.
Check for response- It is important to see if you person is responding to you, by asking him/her if they are all right. You can do this by gently tapping them on both the shoulders. Most people who faint, recover within a few seconds. Reassure the victim and stay calm. Don’t make them get up and sit instantly. Give them some time and then rush them to the nearest doctor.
Call for help and CPR- If you yield no response then check for breathing and a pulse. In case neither is felt, start CPR. Perform resuscitation only if you are trained in it. Otherwise, immediately call for help and dial for an ambulance.
If you suspect a broken neck or spine then do not move the person around or tug the head.
Make way for fresh air to come in and don’t overcrowd. Discretely loosen tight clothing. Do not put anything into the mouth of the person who has fainted like food or water, as they may choke on it.
Look out for head injuries during the fall. Sometimes raising the leg increases blood flow to the heart and brain and may revive the person. Though it may not work in all cases.
Ensure you accompany the person until they are handed over to the doctor and a family member is informed. Stay back to give the doctor all the necessary information.
Give the victim something sweet to drink (sugary fruit juice) and a salty snack once they are up, as low sugar levels, salt depletion, dehydration and low blood pressure are some of the common causes of fainting.
You don’t have to be a doctor to save lives. Lives are saved by the alert bystander. It will be worth your while to learn basic life support and CPR. Contact your nearest Red Cross Society, the Life Supporters or Local Hospital for a course in CPR and First Aid.