Saturday, October 06, 2007

RPM - The acronym to remember in triage

This week our CERT training involved our ability to respond in a disaster to the three “killers,” airway obstruction, bleeding, and shock.

If a disaster hits, the first thing we volunteer emergency responders are being trained to do is to utilize "triage," a system of sorting patients according to need when resources are insufficient for all to be treated. The goal in triage is to quickly assess all the victims to determine who needs immediate care, who can wait, and who is beyond help. We need to spend less than a minute per victim.

Here’s what we practiced:
A. Tilting heads back to unblock the airway.
B. Controlling bleeding, by applying direct pressure, elevating the limb and applying pressure to the brachial or femoral artery. Here's the group practicing:

C. Learning the symptoms of shock, and when they are present, elevating the victim’s feet and keeping him/her warm.

To assist us in determining whether or not a victim is suffering from shock, we learned the acronym “RPM” and were given the handy card below to clip onto our CERT backpacks. The “P” is for “perfusion,” which measures capillary refill. We used the “blanch test,” which involves pinching the nail bed or the palm of the hand, and if it takes longer than 2 seconds to refill, that victim gets an “I” on his/her forehead.

In addition to receiving emergency training, we are being encouraged to gather up what we will need to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours in the event of a serious disaster. In my first CERT post, I included a diagram of a garbage can filled with emergency supplies.

If it feels daunting to begin the process of preparing for a disaster, I highly recommend you use this 16 week list, courtesy of the Healdsburg Lumber Company and endorsed by the Red Cross. Each week is broken out into what to do, what to buy, and useful information.

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