First Aid Treatment for Drowning
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After the patient has been removed from the water, he should be given artificial respiration if he is not breathing. The mouth–to–mouth breathing method is advocated and should be used instead of other methods.
How does one carry out mouth–to–mouth artificial respiration?
- Stretch out patient on his back, loosen any tight clothing around the neck, chest or waist.
- Lift up chin and tilt head back as far as possible. (this straightens out the windpipe and improves the airway to the lungs.)
- With your fingers, pinch the patient’s nostrils so that they are closed.
- Place your mouth tightly over patients mouth and blow as hard as you can.
- Take your mouth away to permit air to be expelled from the lungs.
- Repeat this every five to six seconds.
- Continue this maneuver so long as there is any pulse or heartbeat. It may take as much as several hours to receive someone.
- When you tire, have someone substitute for you.
- If the patients seems to have water or mucus in his throat or hest, tilt him on his side to permit such fluid to run out the mouth.
- Wipe out patient’s mouth with your fingers if mucus or other material collects there. (a non breathing person will never bite.)
- If you are squeamish about direct mouth–to–mouth contact, you may blow through an opened handkerchief. (this may not prove to be as effective as direct contact.)
- Discontinue artificial respiration only when you are certain there is no pulse or heartbeat for several minutes. Listen carefully with your ear to patient’s left chest region and feel for pulsations in the neck.
- If patient is revived, keep him warm and do not move him until the doctor arrives, or at least for a half hour.
Is the mouth–to–mouth breathing method of artificial respiration beneficial in cases of drowning?
Yes, but it is easier for the victim to expel water from the lungs when he is in the prone position. After water has been expelled, mouth–to–mouth breathing can be started.
Is drowning always caused by too much water in the lungs?
Not always. Many cases of drowning are caused by spasm of the larynx and can be relieved by overcoming the spasm. There are many cases on record in which life has been saved by the performances of the tracheotomy below the point of the laryngeal spasm.
Should a tracheotomy be performed by a first–aider?
No, unless it is almost first certain that medical attention cannot be obtained or that the patient will die before it arrives.
Does it help to turn a drowning person upside down and to hold him in this position?
Usually not. He will bring up water from his lungs if merely permitted to lie in a prone position.
When should artificial respiration be abandoned?
When the patient no longer has a heartbeat and is obviously dead.
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