This is SCIENCE IN THE NEWS in VOA Special
English. I'm Bob Doughty.
I'm Pat Bodnar. Today, we will provide a
short guide to first aid.
in hospital emergency rooms often see accidental poisonings. A frightened parent arrives with a child who
swallowed a cleaning liquid. Or perhaps
the harmful substance is a medicine. Or
it might be a product meant to kill insects. These are common causes of accidental poisoning.
cases like this, seek medical help as soon as possible. Save the container of whatever caused the
poisoning. And look on the container for
information about anything that stops the effects of the poison.
anything expelled from the mouth of the victim. That way, doctors can examine it.
the past, some people forced poisoning victims to empty the stomach. They used a liquid -- syrup of ipecac -- to
do this. But a leading medical
organization no longer advises parents to keep syrup of ipecac. The American Academy of Pediatrics says some
poisons can cause additional damage when they come back up the throat.
of people know how to give abdominal thrusts to save a person choking on
something trapped in the throat.
The American Red Cross says a rescuer should first hit
the person on the back five times between the shoulder bones. These back blows may ease the choking. If the airway is still blocked, the Red Cross
suggests pushing hard five times along the victim's abdomen. The abdomen is the area between the chest and
You can do these abdominal thrusts by getting directly
behind a sitting or standing person. Put
your arms around the victim's waist. Close one hand to form a ball. Place it over the upper part of the stomach, below the ribs. Place the other hand on top. Then push forcefully inward and upward. Repeat the abdominal thrusts until the object
is expelled from the mouth.
For someone in late pregnancy or who is very
fat, place your hands higher than with normal abdominal thrusts. Place the hands at the base of the breastbone
-- just above the place where the lowest ribs join. Then begin pushing, as with other victims.
American Heart Association suggests another method in this case. The group advises chest thrusts instead of
abdominal thrusts. For chest thrusts,
put your arms under the victim's arms and your hands on the center of the
Even if you are the person choking, you can still help
yourself. Place a closed hand over the
middle of your abdomen just above your waist. Take hold of that hand with your other hand. Find a hard surface like a chair and rest
your body on it. Then push your closed
hand in and up.
Cross experts say taking these steps can save many lives. But they also say abdominal thrusts are not
for people who have almost drowned. They
say using the method could delay other ways to re-start breathing in the
cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It forces
air into the lungs and pumps blood and oxygen to the brain. Doctors say CPR greatly increases the chances
that a person whose heart stops will survive. It increases the chances that he or she will suffer little or no brain
The American Heart Association suggests two ways of helping. One combines the use of hands to pump the
victim's chest with rescue breathing. The
other method is called "Hands-Only CPR."
"Hands-Only" is for people who are unwilling or unable
to perform rescue breathing. Some people
fear infection. Others say they are
afraid of making the patient worse.
an expert in emergency medicine says a person cannot be worse than dead. Doctor Michael Sayre works at Ohio State
University. He strongly urges people in
contact with a victim to take action.
American Heart Association tells how to take that action. It says you can recognize a person needing CPR
because the person has collapsed. He or
she is unconscious -- unable to communicate or react to surroundings or
speech. His or her skin has lost
color. The person is not breathing. If such conditions describe the situation,
chances are the heart has stopped beating.
should act by calling for help, or sending someone else. Even if you cannot do mouth-to-mouth rescue
breathing, you can perform hands-only CPR. You can do chest compressions that help to keep blood flowing to the
brain, heart and other organs.
perform the compressions, place one hand over the other and press firmly on the
center of the victim's chest. Push down
about five centimeters. Aim for one
hundred compressions each minute. Doctor
Sayre says you do not need a measuring stick or a timing device.
If the heart does not start beating,
continue with chest compressions until help arrives. For a choking victim who is unconscious with
no heartbeat, clear the airway first. Then do chest compressions.
Sayre suggests that medical workers do both the breathing method and chest
compressions. He says some victims,
including babies, need the mouth-to-mouth breathing with the compressions. Still, the doctor says it is better to do
just chest compressions than to do nothing. CPR is not difficult to learn. Many organizations teach it.
CPR training now includes how to use an automated external defibrillator, or AED. Defibrillators use electric shocks to correct
abnormal heartbeats that can lead to sudden death. Such devices are found increasingly in public
places like airports, restaurants and office buildings. A recorded voice on the AED guides the user. The voice provides detailed information about
what to do.
The defibrillator of today has developed from the first
defibrillators. Medical historians say
the devices appeared late in the nineteenth century.
nineteen twenties, American Claude Beck performed the first surgical operations
to repair damaged hearts. Doctor Beck
worked at what is now called Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Another doctor, Carl
J. Wiggers, had kept laboratory animals with heart stoppage alive by massaging
their hearts. Then he followed this
rubbing with electrical defibrillation. This led Claude Beck in his efforts to help return normal heart actions
to human patients.
nineteen forty-seven, Doctor Beck saved a patient with a defibrillator device for
the first time. The doctor's success led
others to further develop the method and device. Today small, movable AEDs can identify
heart rhythms and produce electricity to treat victims of heart stoppage.
can enter the body through even the smallest cut in the skin. So medical experts advise people to treat all
wounds. Clean the cut with soap and
water. Then cover the wound while it
Mayo Clinic health centers suggest several steps if bleeding is severe. First, if possible, have the person lie down
and raise the legs. Remove dirt from the
wound and press on it with a clean cloth or piece of clothing. If you cannot find anything clean, use your
putting pressure on the wound until the bleeding stops or medical help
arrives. Do not remove the cloth if the
blood comes through it. Instead, put
another cloth on top and continue pressure. If the bleeding does not stop with direct pressure, put pressure on the
artery that carries blood to the wound.
the past, people were advised to stop severe bleeding with a tourniquet. This device is made with a stick and a piece
of cloth or a belt. But experts now say
tourniquets are dangerous because they can crush blood passages and nerves.
If a wound seems infected, let the victim rest. Physical activity can spread the
infection. Treat the wound with a
mixture of salt and water until medical help arrives. Add nine and one-half milliliters of salt to
each liter of boiled water. Place a
clean cloth in the mixture and then put the cloth on the wound. But be sure not to burn the skin.
more about first aid, ask a hospital or organization like a Red Cross or Red
Crescent Society for information. Training
may be offered in your area.
If you know first aid methods,
you can be calmer and more helpful in case of emergency.
This SCIENCE IN THE NEWS was
written by Jerilyn Watson. Our producer
was Mario Ritter. I'm Bob Doughty.
And I'm Pat Bodnar. Listen again next week for more news about
science in Special English on the Voice of America.