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Walter Clifford - Colliery Rescue Work - Page 7

The History And Development Of The Mines Rescue Service In Britain - Researched by John Lumsdon

Walter Clifford 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Colliery Rescue Work
Breathing apparatus and its Employment

Practical Paper by Mr. W. Clifford

Walter Clifford
Walter Clifford

First Aid Treatment

The first aid treatment of gas poisoning cases rests on a short rule. The patient requires plenty of rest, warmth, and oxygen. He requires rest because of the very serious effects of the gas on the heart, and any exertion whatever, or even anxiety, is very likely to bring on heart failure; warmth because gassing, is as severe shock to the nervous system as a violent accident, and it is necessary to restore the heat to the body, which has been lowered by the shock. Oxygen, because the system is starved of it and if the patient is given pure oxygen to breath, recovery takes place in about one fifth of the time taken without its aid. If the breathing has stopped, it is necessary before everything, to restore it.

This is best done by Schafer's method in conjunction with the administration of oxygen. Tight clothing must be loosened, the mouth cleared, and the tongue drawn forward. The patient is rolled face downward; his head supported by one of his arms and the other arm is stretched out along the floor. The operator fixes himself astride the patient and with his hands spread widely over the lower ribs, alternately presses and releases the ribs at a not more than 15 to 17 times per minute (for each complete movement.) The oxygen mask is fitted to the patient's nose and mouth, at the earliest possible moment. When breathing has been restored, which might mean upwards of an hour's hard work the patient soon recovers consciousness. Any tendency towards violence should be restrained and if he wishes to sleep, it is better not to allow him to do so for, say, two hours. He should be kept awake by gentle irritation, not by running him up and down by the shoulders, as has been done with fatal results. He should be made as warm and comfortable as possible with blankets, hot water bottles ect and all exertion should be forbidden. For stimulants hot strong coffee should be given. It is a mild stimulant, with no harmful effects on the heart. As much oxygen as possible should be given.

Oxygen displaces the carbon monoxide in the blood five times more quickly than ordinary air, and considerable lessens the agonising pains suffered during recovery. No spirits unless ordered or permitted by a doctor should be given. Spirits under certain circumstances, will hasten recovery, but under other conditions, detected by medical men, the heart would fail if spirits were taken. No drugs of any kind, should be given, to relieve the headache, oxygen is the best thing. Even the common headache powders have a disastrous effect on the heart when affected by carbon monoxide. On no account should the patient be made to sneeze, either by smelling bottle or other means, as this also induces heart failure.

Vomiting should not be induced, but if the patient does vomit, he should not be persuaded to stop, as if voluntarily, it is a good sign and shows he has the strength to withstand it and in most cases a quick recovery results. A good dose of Epsom salts will be found of benefit. When sufficiently recovered to be moved, the patient should be taken away without the very least exertion to himself and at least a weeks complete rest in bed, even though he feels well enough to return to hard work, is essential to ensure that there will be no permanent after effects.

The writer has not touched on rescue training, as this is a subject in its. Several papers have been written on it, the most recent being that of Captain Eagar, M.C. read before the Institute of Mining Engineers in September 1919, which deals with the training of officers and men in the tunnelling companies on active service in France.