What to Do in Case of Electrocution

The rainy season is on us, and chances of stepping on fallen live wires, touching exposed wires with wet hands or even stepping onto a flooded field criss-crossed by buried live wires by electricity thieves, are all sad possibilities.

Thirty-two-year-old Amelia might not have passed away had some of her rescuers known the first aid given to a person who has been electrocuted. Amelia had been mopping her house when her wet hands got into contact with a flat iron she had left connected to a socket and she got electrocuted.

She was rushed to a nearby clinic in Makindye, but the “nurse” in charge of the clinic said she could not offer any first aid.

“Nze simanyi kyakumukolera,” she said, meaning, “I don’t know what to do with her.”

The crowd that had gathered started throwing first aid suggestions around. One said the-now-unconscious Amelia should be given milk, and someone ran to get milk. But when the milk was brought, no one was willing to feed it to her.

So the people went back to discussing what else could be done. Amelia, who had a pulse when she arrived at the clinic, passed away while the discussion went on. Last week, two men died while another three were rushed to a health centre after being electrocuted. The men were reportedly trying to change their tent location – they had been holding a meeting in it – when they got electrocuted. Their tent poles were wet as it had rained that day.

One man said would-be rescuers were too scared to touch them and only the intervention of one brave boy resulted in their being rescued and being taken to a health centre on Entebbe road. The men’s experience was reported by Bukedde TV.

Staying safe:

The would-be rescuers who were too scared to help might have followed the right procedure, only slightly, because as Dr Diana Nasike points out: “The rescuer needs to make sure they are safe first.”

But, that doesn’t mean that no rescue should be attempted. A rescuer should keep safe by either turning off the main switch or identifying the source of electrocution and turning it off.

“Is it a kettle or a socket? Whatever the source of electrocution is, it should be turned off,” Nasike says.

Turning off the main switch or the source of electrocution ensures that a rescuer will not get electrocuted and the electrocuted patient is separated from the electrocuting agent. After this, the rescuer should insulate themselves by wearing shoes, or standing on a dry piece of cloth such as a towel and attempt a rescue.

“A wooden item [because it is a poor conductor of electricity] should be used to drag the patient away from the electrocution source,” Nasike says.

First aid:

After separating the patient from the electricity source, Nasike says the rescuer should check for signs of breathing and circulation. Signs of breathing include a rising and falling chest or listening for escaping air that can be felt against your face. You should look for these signs for up to 10 seconds.

Signs of circulation, according to mayoclinic.com, include movement and coughing. You can feel for a pulse too from the neck or throat, just slightly below the jaw.

Where breathing is absent, you should perform rescue breath by tilting the patient’s head backwards and lifting their chin slightly (this opens the airway), pinching the patient’s nose, placing your mouth over the patient’s and blowing slowly but firmly every three to five seconds for children and adults, respectively. You should repeat this procedure until the patient breathes on their own.

Where a patient is breathing, you can make their breathing easier by “letting a [patient] lie on the side,” one aisor from The Medical Concierge Group (TMCG) says. After ensuring breathing and circulation, take the patient to the hospital, if you can, or call for an ambulance. TMCG provides an ambulance service they can be reached on 0417 747000 or can be sent WhatsApp messages on 0790 512074.

An electrocuted patient could suffer from internal bleeding, putting them at risk of strokes, Nasike says. They, therefore, need medical attention.

No food, no herbs:

Nasike says no food or herbs should be fed to an electrocution patient.

“The person is not able to swallow. Feeding them means you are pouring foodstuffs into their lungs,” Nasike says.

Source : The Observer

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