2. Medical Emergencies
What to do in case a Volunteer has an unexpected health issue?
If it comes to the worst, you are entitled to defend yourself using reasonable force, but you may be asked to account for and justify any action you take.
If they faint, try to keep calm, if you can, lay them on their back and raise their legs. Usually, the person who has fainted will wake up within 20 seconds.
Call 999 if someone faints and they:
- Cannot be woken up after 1 minute.
- Have severely hurt themselves from a fall.
- Are shaking or jerking because of a seizure of fit.
Someone has a seizure
If you see someone having a seizure or fit, there are some simple things you can do to help. You should call an ambulance if you know it's their first seizure or it's lasting longer than 5 minutes.
It might be scary to witness, but do not panic.
If you're with someone having a seizure:
- Only move them if they're in danger – such as near a busy road.
- Cushion their head if they're on the ground.
- Loosen any tight clothing around their neck – such as a collar or tie to – aid breathing.
- When their convulsions stop, turn them so they're lying on their side – read more about the recovery position.
- Stay with them and talk to them calmly until they recover.
- Note the time the seizure starts and finishes.
Do not put anything in their mouth, including your fingers. They should not have any food or drink until they fully recover.
Dial 999 and ask for an ambulance if:
- It's the first time someone has had a seizure.
- The seizure lasts for more than 5 minutes.
- The person does not regain full consciousness, or has several seizures without regaining consciousness.
- The person is seriously injured during the seizure.
Make a note of any useful information.
If you see someone having a seizure, you may notice things that could be useful for the person or their doctor to know:
- What were they doing before the seizure?
- Did the person mention any unusual sensations, such as an odd smell or taste?
- Did you notice any mood change, such as excitement, anxiety or anger?
- What brought your attention to the seizure? Was it a noise, such as the person falling over, or body movements, such as their eyes rolling or head turning?
- Did the seizure occur without warning?
- Was there any loss of consciousness or altered awareness?
- Did any parts of their body stiffen, jerk or twitch? If so, which parts were affected?
- Did the person's breathing change?
- Did they perform any actions, such as mumble, wander about or fumble with clothing?
- How long did the seizure last?
- Did the person lose control of their bladder or bowels?
- Did they bite their tongue?
- How were they after the seizure?
- Did they need to sleep? If so, for how long?
Someone has an heart attack:
Someone having a heart attack may:
- Have crushing pain in the centre of their chest, that may spread to their jaw, and down one or both arms.
- Be breathless or gasping for breath.
- Be sweating profusely.
- Experience pain similar to indigestion.
- Collapse without warning.
- Complain of dizziness.
- Have a rapid, weak or irregular pulse.
- Have a feeling of impending doom.
Call 999 or 112 for emergency help straight away and tell them you think someone is having a heart attack.
Help move the casualty into a comfortable position. The best position is on the floor, with their knees bent and their head and shoulders supported.
Ask the casualty to take their own angina medication, if they have some. Keep monitoring the casualty’s level of response until emergency help arrives.