The Simple Act That Could Save a Life

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Unresponsive, Unconscious and Intoxicated

Or Drunk, Passed Out and Vomiting

If you are reading this and you are worried about someone…
Here is the deal!  Is the person?
  1. Unresponsive?  Call 911
  2. Unconscious?  Call 911

If you don’t, then you get to live with the consequences…just saying.

Ok…now on to the educational part of this post.

When someone becomes ill or even violently ill due to over indulgence, this can become a very serious medical situation.  Every year thousands of people die, or become seriously ill from suffocation, or choking due to aspirating their own emesis or as we commonly call it, vomit.

We all know how this happens; college parties, adult parties, birthday parties, or just plan old “had too much”!

If you haven’t seen the youtube videos of the “Drunk Girl” or “Drunk Guy” circulating on the internet, believe me they are out there by the tens of thousands.  In almost every single one of them, there is some person positioning that poor  “Drunk Guy” or “Drunk Girl” on their back to simply let them sleep it off while they stack beer bottles on them, or give them a nice face paint job, and then leave them there until they sober up.  Funny at first, but when morning comes, and that face painted buttress of beer cans victim is dead; then the parties over, and tragically it just didn’t need to happen.

First, acute alcohol intoxication or alcohol poisoning is a medical emergency!  Anytime someone is unresponsive you should call 911.

Acute alcohol intoxication or alcohol poisoning can occur after the ingestion of a large amount of alcohol.  Inexperienced drinkers, or those sensitive to alcohol, may become acutely intoxicated and suffer serious consequences after ingesting smaller amounts of alcohol.

When ingested in larger quantities; alcohol slows body functions, including heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing.  When alcohol significantly depresses these vital centers; unconsciousness results and this is one step away from coma, and possible death.  Got the picture?

Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning

  • Repeated episodes of vomiting.
  • Unconsciousness or semi-consciousness.
  • Slowed or irregular breathing.  Slow respiration; eight or less breaths per minute, or lapses of more than 10 seconds.
  • Cold, clammy, pale or bluish skin.
  • Vomiting while “sleeping” or passed out, and not waking up after vomiting.

Appropriate Action

If a person exhibits one or more of these symptoms, we recommend that you call 911.  This is a medical emergency!
While waiting for medical transport, gently turn the intoxicated person on his/her side and maintain that position by placing a pillow in the small of the person’s back.  This is important to prevent aspiration should the person vomit.  Stay with the person until medical help arrives.

This Technique is called the H.A.IN.E.S Recovery Position.
A simple act that could save a life!

Developed by John Haines this technique could save a life.  Here is how its done.

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Note: Ensure the head remains in contact with the casualty’s raised arm and supported by the First Aider’s hand.

8. As soon as the hand from the upper arm is placed into the armpit, ensure the Forearm is flat on the surface, and it’s position is at 90 degrees to the body.

9. When the casualty is positioned on their side, check the airway, and if required; clear it with the face turned slightly downwards to permit drainage from the mouth (while still being supported on the raised arm underneath).

Warning: Once the casualty is placed into the H.A.IN.E.S. Recovery Position, use airway maneuvers such as ‘Jaw Thrust’ (lifting the jaw ‘forward’ and upward, whilst avoiding pressure on the neck) first.
This is in preference to a head tilt in order to further reduce movement to the neck.

 The above instructions are FREE for public access & use.
* ‘How should an unconscious person with a suspected neck injury be positioned?’ – B. Gunn et. Al ‘Prehospital & Disaster Medicine’ – Vol 10, No: 4 Oct-Dec 1995. ‘The position of the spine in the recovery position – an experimental comparison between the lateral recovery position and the modified HAINES position’ – W. Blake et.al ‘Resuscitation’; Vol 53; Issue 3; June 2002.
 
 

Intoxicated persons should be evaluated by a professional if:

  • Person is unable to stand or walk, or can only do so with difficulty.
  • Person is only poorly aware of his or her surroundings.
  • Person has difficulty breathing.
  • Person has passed out or is stuporous.
  • Person has fever or chills.
  • Person has difficulty speaking or identifying him/herself to others.
  • Person is obnoxious or unruly.
  • Person is reported to have consumed a large quantity of alcohol, or chugged, or ingested other sedating or tranquilizing drugs.

If an individual is not showing the above symptoms at this point, consider if the following three conditions are met:

  • Person is conscious, alert, and appears to understand the risks of the situation.
  • Person can state his or her name, class, and address.
  • Person is able to stand or walk without assistance, although speech may be slurred.

Then the following steps are beneficial:

  • Get the person to bed.
  • Place them on their side (H.A.IN.ES Position) with a pillow in the small of their back.
  • Someone needs to be checking in on them every 10-15 minutes for the remainder of the night.

 

Sources:

Thank You’s

John Haines and Australian First Aid
http://australianfirstaid.com.au/haines.html

The University of Norte Dame
204 Saint Liam Hall Notre Dame, IN 46556
http://oade.nd.edu/educate-yourself-alcohol/acute-alcohol-intoxication/

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