Have you ever seen a person suddenly fall to the floor unconscious? Have you ever wondered what causes a person to pass out? The reason most people pass out is a lack of circulation of oxygen to the brain. It turns out that there are many very different causes for this lack of circulation of oxygen. Among the most common reasons are an electrolyte disturbance, high or low blood sugar, a heart condition, a seizure, a severe injury, a stroke, and hypotension (low blood pressure). The last reason, a drop in blood pressure (which can happen for many reasons itself), is the most common cause for a lack of oxygen circulating to the brain, which causes a person to pass out.
Because people can be standing, biking, or even driving when they pass out, the potential injuries can be catastrophic. A very common injury incurred by people when they pass out is falling and hitting their head upon collapse. If you happen to be present when a person spontaneously falls to the floor, it is important to be prepared to help by knowing what steps to take. Before you begin helping, you should have gloves and possibly even a protective one-way face shield. You can purchase a face shield key ring for a very reasonable price, which includes personal protective equipment of gloves and a face shield in a very small, convenient pouch that can fit on your key ring. This way, you can ensure that you will always be ready in the event of an emergency.
The first action to take if a person collapses and is unconscious is to have a person nearby call 911. It is vital to the person's chances of survival that someone call 911 immediately so EMS professionals arrive on the scene as soon as possible, as they may actually be able to treat or revive the unconscious person. All you can hope to do is buy more time for paramedics by attempting to keep the person's body in a somewhat stable state.
After 911 has been called, you should place a hand on the person's forehead to stabilize his head and keep his neck from moving around, tap on his collarbone, and shout to the person to determine if he is unconscious. Next, check for signs of life by looking (down their body for movement / signs of breathing), listening (for breathing / sounds), and feeling (for the presence of a pulse). If the person is breathing (meaning he also has a pulse), the next concern is to stabilize / treat any injuries that have occurred from the fall. Be sure to stabilize the person to ensure that no further injuries occur by making sure that he moves his head / neck or any other part of his body that may have been affected by the fall as little as possible. It can even help to mention softly to the person that he is going to be okay and help is on the way, even if you believe him to be unconscious.
Once the person is stabilized, elevate his legs above his heart by placing them on a stool, chair, or box if you do not fear any lower body injuries. Next, cover the person with a blanket, coat, or sheet to help him retain heat. Continue to monitor the signs of life (airway, breathing, and circulation). If at any time, the person stops breathing, changes colors, or is not moving or responding, and you suspect him to be dead, you should immediately start CPR to keep oxygen and blood flowing through the person's body until paramedics arrive to take over. Make sure you know CPR and the most up-to-date ratio of compressions to breaths to have the best chance to save the person's life. Although any number of breaths and compressions is helpful. Remember that if you are in a situation to perform CPR but you do not have a one-way barrier with which to perform rescue breaths, you can always perform hands-only CPR, which can be very effective on its own.
After performing CPR for some minutes, reassess for airway, breathing, and circulation. If the person is still not breathing, you should continue CPR until help arrives. If an AED is present in the building you are in or in a nearby building, use it. AEDs are very effective and have helped to save the lives of many people who would otherwise not have survived. These techniques should be used until professional medical personnel arrive to take over. These steps for treating a person who has passed out can be the difference between him living or dying.
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