How would you know if someone is in serious danger?Look out for the following signs:
- Person is lying with his head, neck or back in an awkward position
- Severe pain in the head, neck or back
- Weakness, tingling or loss of sensation below the point of injury
- Inability to move arms or legs
- Bruises on the head, neck, shoulders or back
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Difficulty breathing
- Symptoms of shock
Even if the person doesn’t display any of these symptoms, but you know she/he has sustained a back, neck or head injury, treat it as a spinal injury. If a head injury was sustained and the person has disturbed level of consciousness, suspect a spinal injury as well.
Get help immediately if:
You suspect a spinal injury. The sooner a person is treated in hospital, the greater the chances for recovery.
- If you suspect a spinal injury, don’t move the person unless she/he is in imminent danger from, for example, traffic or fire or you need to perform CPR.
- If a person is in the water, don’t move him to land. Keep him lying face up until help arrives. The water will immobilise the spine.
- Don’t remove helmets unless you need to perform CPR.
- If the person must be moved, there should be one person controlling the neck and head to keep them in alignment, and at least two people on either side of the person to lift him without moving the spine.
- Treat other life-threatening injuries while waiting for help to arrive.
- Keep the person warm
- Don’t give anything to eat or drink