Medical Emergencies &
Remember ... you’re not right around the corner from the ER
Ironic how when I'm
in the midst of writing this that one of the most serious, and
most preventable emergencies in our neighborhood occurred just
three days ago.
As I was outdoors
working, a life-flight helicopter started circling near me, but
not quite overhead. I dropped what I was doing and ran to see
where it would land.
One neighbor was
already there because the emergency was at the new neighbors
right across the street from her property.
She had been
working outside when she heard a woman scream in pain. As she
looked, she could see smoke coming from the area of the scream.
She raced to help and found the neighbor's mother with third
degree burns on her face, neck and forearms. Thankfully she was
wearing glasses that saved her from losing her eyesight.
She was burning
brush and decided to pour gasoline on the fire when the gas can
Here husband was
near and she was screaming for him to take her to the hospital
-- just a few major problems with that idea. One, the hospital
with the burn center is a good hour away. Two, with narrow,
windy roads, and accident or road closure could prevent them
from getting there. Three, they were visiting from the Bay Area
and didn't know where the hospitals were. And four, the woman
was so badly injured, she would be in mortal danger to make the
drive without the proper medical attention along the way.
Thankfully one of
us who has lived here for some time was there. She insisted they call 911 which they finally
did. When the burns were described to the dispatch center they
immediately dispatched the helicopter as well as a ground
The ground unit
had to resuscitate her more than once before the helicopter
arrived. A drive would have killed her.
lessons here are obvious. And hopefully she'll
One of the biggest medical issues you have is the fact
that you're not close to medical help in many country areas. We have a
minimum of a 30 minute drive to the nearest emergency room, and some
medical emergencies can require action much faster to assure the best
outcome. That means you need to become extremely knowledgeable
about the conditions or problems that are most likely to occur.
Known medical conditions can sometimes be treated on the
way to a medical facility such as severe allergic reactions. If you or a
family member has a known medical condition, it's wise for you to have a
conversation with your physician regarding your distance / time from
medical help and what the proper "first aid" treatment would
be to assure the best outcome.
It would also be wise to get to know a couple of your
neighbors well enough to know who is home most and who could drive you
to medical help, or whether 911 is always your best answer. Whatever you
do, DON'T TRY TO DRIVE YOURSELF if you're the one with the problem.
You'll just endanger yourself and other drivers.
And don't panic. Whether you or a family
member or friend needs help, keeping a cool head, knowing what to do
(maybe you want to create a checklist so your kids or other family or
friends can follow it also) and DON'T PANIC. Panic leads to bad
decisions and when you or someone else needs help, panic is the least
helpful thing you can do.
Here are some emergencies that can occur in the area and
the accepted first aid for each.
First Aid Rattlesnake Bite
apply an ACE bandage above the bite (between
the bite and the heart). Make sure you can still find a
pulse below the bandage to minimize tissue damage.
try and keep the bitten extremity at heart
level or in a gravity-neutral position. Raising it above
heart level can cause venom
to to travel into the body. Holding it down, below heart
level can increase swelling.
get medical help immediately. Call 911
immediately if no one is home when you're bitten. The longer
you wait, the longer the venom has to adversely affect your
decision-making, or action-taking ability.
apply ice, cold packs or hot packs
cut or incise the bite site
permit removal of
pressure dressings, Sawyer
or ACE bandage until you are at a facility ready and able to
apply a narrow, constrictive tourniquet such
as a belt, necktie, or cord
eat or drink anything unless okayed by
engage in strenuous physical activity
apply oral (mouth) suction to the bite
drink any alcohol or use any medication
waste time or take any risks trying to kill,
bag or bring in the offending snake
waste time getting to the hospital.
Call 911 immediately -- don't have someone drive you. If you
need medical attention along the way, you want a paramedic
-- not a family member or neighbor.
Animal Planet has a series
called "Venom ER" which talks extensively about rattlesnake
encounters, treatment, and outcome. It's a great learning
Have a First Aid Kit
Poison Oak rashes will spread easily. If you scratch an
affected area and then touch another part of your body or someone else's,
it could easily spread. Be extremely cautious about touching your eyes,
mouth or nose as the result will not only make you itch more, but once
the rash is internal, it can be deadly.
NEVER burn dead Poison Oak.
Inhaling the smoke can cause a deadly reaction. If you must burn it, let
neighbors know and be sure you take precautions with a mask or breathing
apparatus, goggles, and complete protective clothing. Also, burn
only when the air is wet or misty. Wash all
clothing immediately -- by themselves.
Immediately wash the affected area with
"Tecnu" (available over the counter at most
pharmacies - get some to keep on hand before someone is
exposed!!!) poison oak and ivy cleanser. You can then use
most spray antiseptics or anti itch medicines to help ease
the itch during the healing process. If you don't have
Tecnu on hand, then wash several times with a strong soap
Severe cases -- inhaled smoke, large areas of
skin exposed. Do the above but get to a doctor or medical
facility immediately. If you have inhaled poison oak smoke,
call 911 as a sever reaction could disable
you in route if you or someone else drives you. Again, you
want a paramedic, not an unskilled person to help.
& Stings - UC Davis Safety Information
Animal Emergencies & First Aid -
There are a number of diseases and parasites that affect your animals
in the Sierra Foothills. You should get familiar with them so you can
provide the best protection for your pets. For a great overview of these
It may take the vet a long time to arrive for large animal
emergencies, so you should check with your vet to see if you need to
have any medications on hand for the animals you have.
But, even if you do have some medications on hand, it's a good idea to
call your vet immediately if you know your animal has been bitten by a
snake or goes down for any reason.
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