Thursday, April 22, 2010

First Aid: Splinting

This is the second post in a series of First Aid posts. At any paintball game/event there should always be several people who have first aid skills, and they should be reasonably prepared to deal with first aid situations. That being said, there isn't a whole lot out there to inform the paintball community on what to do in an emergency situation. Since writing my first article on Insta Glucose, I've seen a lot of searches for "Paintball First Aid" etc. redirecting to Grey Ops, so there must be a demand for it.

Splinting is an invaluable tool that requires neither advanced knowledge nor specialized tools. In the middle of the woods, you won't have any fancy pre-made splints, and will have to rely on whatever is at hand. Splints are used to immobilize broken body parts, so as to prevent further injury to the location. Such injuries are common in any activity where there is physical activity with varied terrain (such as your typical paintball field).

Choosing the splint itself is as easy as finding any oblong solid object, this can include:
  • Sticks/branch
  • Paintball barrels
  • Paintball markers
  • Paintball pod
  • Barrel swab
To tie the splint you can use:
  • Cloth
  • Belts
  • Rope
  • Paracord
  • Bandanas
How to splint:
  1. The one thing you should keep in mind during the entire process is that you want to reduce any movement of the injured location to a minimum. So begin by leaving the injured location where it is if possible.
  2. Take the splint and lay it alongside the injured location. Ensure that the injury is away from either end of the splint.
  3. Tie the splint with the cloth (or whatever you have) above and below the injury as shown above. You want to make sure you're tying it tight enough to immobilize the location as best you can, but not tight enough to block circulation. If anything around the injury appears swollen or pale, or if the injured person complains about the splint itself hurting, it is probably too tight. If you know how, check for signs of circulation above and below the location of injury/splint frequently.
  4. If it's available, and if the skin isn't broken, apply ice or something cold the injured area to reduce swelling.
  5. Ensure that the injured person receives medical care as soon as possible.
Once again, it's important that the location of injury remained immobilized. Unless the person's life is in immediate danger from other causes, it is best to wait for professional help to arrive. There is no reason that anyone should be unable to splint someone, it's an easy skill that can be performed anywhere.

As with any injury, if you believe it to be serious, contact your local emergency medical services as quickly as possible (i.e. before you do anything else). It's always better to phone for a false alarm than risk the alternative.

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