What Questions to Ask During a Medical Emergency or When Providing First Aid?

What Questions to Ask During a Medical Emergency or When Providing First Aid?

If you have taken a basic First Aid, CPR/AED class you may have wandered out of the classroom thinking “I’m set”;  I can help anyone! You have knowledge, and the skills, but when faced with a sudden illness what questions do you ask? What is important? Did your instructor cover what questions to ask?

Every single class we hold provides our students with tools.  Knowledge Tools, Practical Skills Tools, and the most over looked aspect of emergency medical response training…..Question Tools!

What is going on with your patient? If they are unconscious then hopefully you know the answer to that problem, but if you don’t, call 911 for all unconscious or unresponsive persons, and it’s time to take a class.

However, if your patient is conscious and suffering from an as yet unknown sudden illness how can you help?

The answer is simply a few questions. We call it “SAMPLE“, a mnemonic acronym to remember key questions for a person’s medical assessment.

The SAMPLE history is sometimes used in conjunction with vital signs and OPQRST. The questions are most commonly used in the field of emergency medicine by first responders during the secondary assessment. It is used for alert people, but often much of this information can also be obtained from the family or friend of an unresponsive person. In the case of severe trauma, this portion of the assessment is less important. A derivative of SAMPLE history is AMPLE history which places a greater emphasis on a person’s medical history.

The parts of the mnemonic are:

  • S – Signs/Symptoms (Symptoms are important but they are subjective.)
  • A – Allergies
  • M – Medications
  • P – Past Illnesses
  • L – Last Oral Intake (Sometimes also Last Menstrual Cycle.)
  • E – Events Leading Up To Present Illness / Injury

It’s a good practice to have these memorized, but if you need a helper we have attached a downloadable form you can use when offering care. The form we use is called a “PCR” or patient care report.

Please feel free to download this form, share it, print out a few copies, and put them in your First Aid Kit.

Widow: Defibrillator not used because of husband’s hairy chest

Widow: Defibrillator not used because of husband’s hairy chest

A man was flying from Los Angeles to Albuquerque on Southwest Airlines when he died of a heart attack. His wife thinks his hairy chest had something to do with his death.

By Nancy Laflin KOAT Albuquerque.

Caroline and Jack Jordan were on the Southwest Airlines flight when the heart attack occurred. Passengers performed CPR, but he didn’t survive the attack.

His wife said a defibrillator was on board, but wasn’t used because of her husband’s hairy chest.

“The flight attendant that had been right up there with us said because his chest is too hairy,” she said.

A local Albuquerque physician said reacting to an emergency quickly can be the difference between life and death, and chest hair is rarely a factor with a defibrillator not working.

The staff at the Albuquerque Heart Institute said there are razors and scissors included with the devices to shave hair and cut clothing and jewelry. Caroline Jordan said for her husband it was too late.

In our CPR/AED Classes at Northwest Response we teach all students opn how to deal with a hairy chest before applying the AED electrodes.  All Students who become certified in CPR & AED Deployment know how to deal with a situation like this, obviously Southwest Airlines Needs Some serious retraining, with a certified instructor.

The Simple Act That Could Save a Life

The Simple Act That Could Save a Life

Unresponsive, Unconscious? Intoxicated, Passed Out and Vomiting?

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

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

Now 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 plain 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) almost every single one of them feature 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! Then they leave them there until they sober up, which is funny at first, but when morning comes the “face painted buttress of beer cans” victim is dead!

All of a sudden the parties over, and tragically 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.

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 and simple act that could save a life!

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 developed by John Haines is called the H.A.IN.E.S Recovery Position.

Link: https://www.australianfirstaid.com.au/h-a-i-n-e-s-position/

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.

* ‘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.

The above instructions are FREE for public access & use.

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.


Thank You to John Haines and Australian First Aid

Heat Stroke? Really!?

Heat Stroke? Really!?

Can We Talk About Heat Stroke?

We know, we know… we’ll have more cold days, and more recorded rain for Winter as usual, but the thing is….

Can You Spot Heat Stroke?

Let’s face it – in this Washington weather, when the sun comes out we go running for it. It’s our big glowing invitation to get out and explore the trails, parks and lakes our beautiful state has to offer. Of course we remember to lather up in sunscreen to protect that Northwestern skin, but is there something we’re forgetting?

Just like our largest external organ – our skin – our internal organs need to be protected from the sun too. When our bodies aren’t properly hydrated, our internal temperature control system fails to function properly. Heat Stroke is the result of a combination of prolonged exposure to heat and dehydration, both things we Washingtonians are quite unfamiliar with. As we are out enjoying the warm day that comes all too rarely, it is easy to forget to stay hydrated.

Heat Stroke Looks Like This

There are is a mild progression of other heat-related illnesses to look out for leading up to experiencing a heat stroke:

  • Muscle weakness or cramping
  • Headache/Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Lack of sweating despite heat
  • Hot, dry skin
  • Fainting

The best thing to do for someone experiencing heat stroke is call 911. This illness can be extremely dangerous and sometimes fatal. While waiting for emergency medical services to arrive, try to cool down the individual. You can do this in several different ways depending on the supplies you have available. If ice packs are handy, try placing them on the person’s neck, armpits, groin or back. These places have blood vessels close to the skin and will help speed up the cooling process. Other ways to cool down a heat stroke victim include fanning them, patting their skin with wet cloths, or spraying or immersing them in cool water.

While most heat stroke victims are 50 years or older, knowing the signs and symptoms can be helpful at any age. During your outdoor Summer activities, remember to be aware of what is going on around you and keep an eye out for medical emergencies like these.

Try some of these helpful tips when it comes to staying cool:

  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
  • Wear light-weight, loosely fitting light colored clothes
  • Try to keep outdoor activities during the morning or evening when it is much cooler

Heat Related Illness, Cramps, Exhaustion & Stroke

Heat Related Illness

Twenty-five people take turns to perform CPR for one and a half hours (1.5) hours to keep a man who collapsed after a heart attack alive.

Twenty-five people take turns to perform CPR for one and a half hours (1.5) hours to keep a man who collapsed after a heart attack alive.

Don’t give up too soon!

I have often shared this incredible story in my classes of a community that just would not give up on one of their own. Because of their efforts, a man who suffered a massive heart attack is alive and well today after being kept alive for an incredible 1.5 hours (90 minutes) by passers-by who took turns to perform CPR.

Never Give Up! Unless you have reached the final “5”!

  • Too Exhausted to Continue
  • EMS Arrives, or Another Responder Takes Over
  • The Scene is Unsafe to Stay
  • An AED (Automated External Defibrillator) Needs to be Deployed
  • An Obvious Sign of Life

Howard Snitzer, 54, collapsed in the street when he suffered a potentially fatal cardiac arrest on his way to collect groceries. With a population of just 800 people and not a single traffic light in the town, his chances of survival looked bleak, but Snitzer was miraculously kept alive by dozens of good Samaritans who pumped his heart as he lay lifeless on the ground.

The chef has now made an almost full recovery and is relaxing at his home in the back-water town of Goodhue, Minnesota. He said: ‘I love them. I love those people. What can I say? It’s pretty overwhelming to be in a room full of people that are not going to walk away and give up on you.’ And I had nothing to do with it. It’s just one of those things. They’re all angles as far as I’m concerned. ‘I don’t remember going (for groceries), I don’t remember getting out of the car, and I don’t remember blacking out.’

Al Lodermeier, who owns the garage just across the street from where Snitzer collapsed, was one of the first people to start CPR.

Howard Snitzer. Alive today, because we did not give up on him.

He alerted his brother Roy who was joined by another passer-by who witnessed the moment Sitzer collapsed, Candace Koehn.

The Lodermeier brothers were both veteran first responders with more than three decades of experience on the volunteer Goodhue Fire Department and grabbed the rescue truck for its first aid kit. Koehn had also been trained in CPR. Other rescuers joined including police, volunteer fire fighters and rescue squads from the neighbouring towns of Zumbrota and Red Wing. 

The Mayo Clinic’s emergency helicopter, Mayo One, flew in from Rochester, Minnesota from almost 35 miles away.

Their teamwork kept blood flowing to Snitzer’s brain, making each rescuer a surrogate for his failing heart. 

‘I’ts remarkable. It’s a great example of people doing the right thing and having it work out,’ Bruce Wilkoff, a Cleveland Clinic heart rhythm specialist, told USA Today.

He added: ‘The brain survives, at best, five or six minutes when the blood flow stops.’

It is estimated that across the U.S. only five percent of those who who suffer cardiac arrest on the street are resuscitated and live.

Other rescuers joined including police, volunteer fire fighters and rescue squads from the neighbouring towns of Zumbrota and Red Wing.

Even cities with the best records of responding to out-of-hospital cardiac arrests are said to save fewer than half of all victims or just 45 percent at best if the cardiac arrest is witnessed by a bystander.

‘I don’t think the story’s about me,’ Snitzer told USA Today. ‘It’s about the guys in Goodhue and Mayo One.

‘My end of this bargain is to honour the guys who did this for me.’

During the emergency, first responders shocked Snitzer a dozen times to jolt his heart out of its abnormal rhythm, or ventricular fibrillation. 

Paramedics Bruce Goodman and Mary Svoboda also gave Snitzer intravenous drugs to try to restore his heartbeat to normal. 

When he didn’t respond, he called experts for guidance and they agreed to try a calculated overdose of a heart drug, amiodarone, which worked.

The Mayo One helicopter crew landed and  found a line of first responders taking turns pumping on Snitzer’s chest. Al Lodermeier was at Snitzer’s head, squeezing air into a mask over his mouth using a device called an ambu bag.

Doctors feared that Snitzer might have suffered a blood clot and suffer brain damage but has now been released from hospital after 10 days and is on course to make a full recovery.

When he didn’t respond, he called experts for guidance and they agreed to try a calculated overdose of a heart drug, amiodarone, which worked.

‘The number one thing in this case was that someone recognized very quickly that he had arrested and began good, hard, fast CPR,’ said Mayo One paramedic Bruce Goodman who arrived shortly after Snitzer collapsed.

‘If you’d told me that night that this guy was going to get up and walk out of the hospital I would probably have said, ”I’ll bet my house against yours he won’t ”.’

Annual Asbestos Awareness Training is Back!

Annual Asbestos Awareness Training is Back!

NWR is Very Happy to Announce “on-site” Annual Asbestos Awareness Training in The Pacific Northwest.

This program is for Maintenance Workers, School Custodians, Restoration Contractors, Abatement Workers, Electricians,  Roofing Contractors, Flooring Contractors, Painters, Demolition Workers, Shipyard Workers, and more. 

Annual Asbestos Awareness Training may be a requirement for your employees.

If you need Asbestos Awareness Training and you know it, please call our training office at 253-238-0519, or use the contact form and one of our trainers will be in-touch with you shortly.

If you are unsure if your facility is required to provide Asbestos Awareness Training, please see this fact sheet from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries

  • Northwest Response Instructors can provide Asbestos Awareness Training for groups as small as 10, and as large as 50 attendees.
  • The Minimum fee is $550.00 per class within 50 miles of Gig Harbor, Washington. That covers the first ten (ten) attendees.
    • Each additional attendee is $25.00
  • For large groups call our training department
    p. 253-238-0519, or drop us an email

Asbestos is everywhere in our older buildings. The asbestos manufacturing industry found a way of using the asbestos mineral in over 3000 products, from building materials to insulation products. Chances are that if you are working in a facility that was built before 1990 you have asbestos lurking about and you probably know it.

If you know that your facility has asbestos; “Asbestos Awareness Training” is required by the Washington State Department of Occupational Health and Safety (DOSH) for all employees working on a job site that currently contains or has contained asbestos.

WAC-296-62-07722 is the standard for Asbestos Awareness Training.  A Full Copy of the standard can be found here