first aid

Course 101: What to do in an emergency?

Emergencies come in all shapes and sizes and they can be devastating. The impact on roadways, power stations, water plants, and water sewage treatment plants can turn the “normal routine” upside down for hours, days, even months and years. Having fires with no water to fight them or local EMTs so swamped that there are no professionally trained people to assist in an emergency is no laughing matter.

Emergencies happen without warning. There is no time to think. Whether it be a natural disaster such as an earthquake (44 of the 50 states are earthquake prone) or severe weather, or a man made disaster caused by equipment failure, such as a power outage, it is important to be prepared. By thinking, planning, and preparing ahead of time, one is able to respond quickly and calmly. The benefits of being prepared are numerous: lives are saved, injuries are prevented, and property damages are reduced. It is easier to “bounce back” from an emergency. Lets review some basics to emergency response for various disasters.

How one responds vary depending on the type of emergency. A medical emergency is the most common. Getting proper first aid training helps one determine how to quickly assess a situation calmly and with control. It also reduces the fear that often comes up when one is in an unfamiliar situation. First and foremost always keep yourself safe. People are the number one priority. Be prepared to assist others as to the location and type of emergency. Dialing 9-1-1 may be all you can do.

For weather emergencies, stay out of harms way by seeking shelter. Stay inside and clear of falling debris. “Duck, cover and hold” may be apropos. That is, seek safety underneath a table or sturdy object, cover your head, and stay put until the situation becomes safe. Stay alert for aftershocks in an earthquake situation. The impact of tornados may have created an unsafe situation so care is to be taken. Be sure to secure equipment to prevent any possible lateral movement or having equipment tip over. Shut off main valves, such as gas lines to prevent leaks.

If there is a fire, notify personnel, shut down equipment and leave or evacuate the area safely. Use and knowledge of fire suppression equipment is critical. Check for broken connectors after shutting off main valves. Check with a flashlight, do not use a match. It is important to have a designated meeting area to re-assess the situation and determine if everyone is safe and what might need to be communicated to emergency personnel.

If a chemical spill happens, stop and think. Is it hazardous? Do I know what to do? Do I have the proper equipment? Am I trained? Is this a danger to you or the facility? Do not try to clean it up, but instead, rope it off and let properly trained professional personnel clean up the spill. Again, the first rule of safety is keeping yourself and others clear of potential dangers.

Keep food and water storage, first aid kit, tool supplies, sanitation, flashlight and batteries and other emergency preparedness materials in a place that is easily accessible. Utilize water supplies such as water heater, toilets, ice cube trays, when needed in an emergency. Pre-emergency drills go a long way to instill calm and focus. Remember it is not uncommon to be isolated from your loved ones during an emergency. Being separated due to work and proximity constraints happens often. Now is the time to practice and get prepared.

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