Life-threatening incidents can occur at any time on and off the job, including a motor-vehicle accident, severe weather, acts of terrorism, or hostile intruder. The assistance needed can come in many forms. In an emergency you may find yourself in a situation where you are the help, until help arrives.
A foundational element of the safety profession is to carry out section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which requires employees be given a safe and healthful workplace that is reasonably free of recognized hazards. However, it is unrealistic to expect that accidents will never happen. Therefore, employers are required to provide medical and first aid personnel and supplies commensurate with the hazards of the workplace (29 CFR 1910.151). But what about a catastrophic event that goes beyond that of a typical workplace hazard?
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers some simple yet essential action tips if you find yourself in a situation beyond the scope of your professional responsibilities on or off the job.
Essential Tip #1
Call 9-1-1. Never assume that someone else has already done this. 911 operators will be able to help and can coach you through the life-threatening situation.
Essential Tip #2
Stay safe. Try to stay calm and assess the situation. Determine whether you should stay and help, grab the injured and get to safety, or get yourself to safety.
Essential Tip #3
Stop any bleeding. Apply steady, firm pressure on the source to control the bleeding.
Essential Tip #4
Position the injured. Lay the person on their side, legs slightly bent, with the bottom hand reached outward and their head resting near their hand. Raise the chin forward with their mouth pointed downward. Do not, however, move a victim if you suspect a neck or spinal cord injury.
Essential Tip #5
Provide comfort. Exchange names and ask basic questions. Let them know what happened. Stay with them, keep them warm, and offer to hold their hand. Make sure they know they are not alone.
Keep in mind that it can take anywhere between six to 20 minutes, the national average response time for urban and rural areas, for Emergency Medical Services to arrive. These simple tips, along with your professional safety background, can help keep people alive and safe until professional help arrives.
Key to Remember: In an emergency, on or off the job, you may need to help an injured person until professional help arrives.
You may also enjoy the following articles:
Additional articles by Robin Marth: