September 2015 Nurse’s Blog: Fainting First Aid

September 2015 Nurse’s Blog: Fainting First Aid

In June I reviewed first aid for respiratory emergencies. Here I will review first aid for fainting, which is a circulatory problem. Fainting occurs when the blood supply to the brain is momentarily inadequate, causing one to lose consciousness. This loss of consciousness is usually brief. Fainting can have little medical significance like lack of food or sleep, or overexertion. It can however, be due to a serious medical disorder. Therefore, treat loss of consciousness as a medical emergency until the signs and symptoms are relieved and the cause is known.

If you are feeling faint yourself, sit down and put your head between your knees to assist circulation. Ask for help and do not stand up quickly. As the feeling of faintness resolves have someone stay with you until you are feeling better. If the feeling does not resolve then have help assist you in lying down and call 911.

If you observe someone passing out or becoming dizzy, assess the area for safety and gently help the person to the floor. If the person refuses, then help them to a comfortable sitting position. Try to avoid bumping the person’s head. Bumps and bruises can occur when a person falls and frequently can’t be avoided. If the person is breathing help blood flow to the brain by raising the person’s legs above heart level (about one foot) and cover them with a blanket. Blankets are available by the first aid equipment or automated electronic defibrillator in the narthex. If they are not breathing call for help from the CPR
Team or start CPR yourself. Ask someone to call 911 and get the AED (automated electronic defibrillator).

Talk with the person if you can and assure them you will help them. Don’t let the person get up. If the person isn’t conscious, call 911. Assess the person’s airway, breathing and circulation. Watch for vomiting, which can occur.

Frequently check the person’s airway to be sure it’s clear. Check for signs of circulation (breathing, coughing or movement). Continue CPR until help arrives or the person
responds and begins to breathe and emergency medical help arrives. Encourage them to continue to rest even when they start to feel better, wait for the EMS personnel to assess them and take them to the hospital. I will continue reviewing first aid for circulatory emergencies next month.