Saturday 1 October 2016

Rapid response: how to deal with a farm accident

Published 15/06/2016 | 02:30

Donal Crowley National Ambulance Service (left).
Donal Crowley National Ambulance Service (left).
Putting pressure on a wound

Knowing what to do when confronted with a serious farm accident can be the difference between life and death. Farmers at a safety training day in Kerry last week were given brief introductions to the key things that everybody working on a farm should be able to do.

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"The first thing is to ring the emergency services immediately," Donal Crowley of the National Ambulance Service, pictured below, told farmers at the information day in Currans in Kerry last week.

"Some people think they should ring family and neighbours first, but in a critical situation, every minute counts," said the paramedic.

In Kerry, the average time for an ambulance to get to the scene of a farm accident is 12-18 minutes. "Give your location and explain what has happened, bearing in mind that the person you are speaking to may have no idea what a PTO is, or what you mean by a (loader) bucket," said Mr Crowley.

"Once the facts have been established, the emergency services personnel will often be able to instruct a person on what to do across the phone."

In the case of a heart attack, this would involve administering CPR, which these days is "all about compression" according to Mr Crowley.

"Keeping the blood pressure up by doing 120 chest compressions per minute is vital. If you can give rescue breaths (mouth to mouth) by pinching the nose and inflating the lungs twice every 15 seconds, it's a bonus," said Mr Crowley.

Deep cuts is the other incident that can be helped until the ambulance arrives. "If an artery is cut, the blood will be really pumping out, and a real bright red in colour. This is a serious situation, and the key is to plug the hole so pressure should be kept on the wound at all times. Kneel on the wound if you must to keep the pressure up.

"Use a rag or something you're wearing to cover the wound. Don't worry if it's dirty. Any infection that it causes can be dealt with by the hospital, but it could be too late if the victim loses too much blood. A typical male will only have about five litres of blood in their bodies," said Mr Crowley.

"Don't change the cloth if it becomes saturated - that will help the blood clot. Instead, try wrapping another piece of clothing around it.

"The older the person is, the sooner they will go into shock from the loss of blood, so get them seated or lying down. They might start talking funny at this stage, asking you who you are - this is normal.

"Try to keep as much blood flowing around the heart as possible, so elevate the limbs, especially if one of them is cut.

"They may be getting cold from the loss of blood, so try to cover them up as much as possible," said Mr Crowley.

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