The emergency treatment of electric shock, gas asphyxiation, motor exhaust gas asphyxiation and drowning, all have the one thing in common, that in all these conditions breathing usually stops, and the obvious first aid treatment is artificial respiration.
In case of electric shock, the first procedure is sometimes to remove the person from contact with the electric current. This sometimes requires some ingenuity in order to do so with safety to the rescuer. The United States Department of the Interior gives the following instructions in “First Aid Instructions for Miners”:
“The symptoms of electric shock are: Sudden loss of consciousness; absence of respiration, or, if present, very light and may not be observable; very weak pulse; and burns at point of contact. Always rescue a sufferer as quickly as possible, being careful not to get in contact with the live wire. Lose no time in looking for a switch for turning off the current; if there is one near at hand, open at once. If there is a piece of wire at hand, throw it across the trolley wire and rail; by so doing the circuit breaker in the power house will be thrown out and the current cut off. If no wire long enough to reach from the wire to the rail is at hand, you may proceed to remove the victim from the current, but first get a dry board, piece of wood, or paper and put it under your feet, and protect the hand you use with your cap, coat or any dry nonconducting material, so as not to make a circuit. If possible use one hand only, placing the other behind you. If you do use both hands to remove the man from the ground, make sure that both your hands and your feet are well insulated so that you will not be caught in the same contact as your patient.
“Another way is to take your belt or handkerchief or a piece of rope and loop it over the patient’s feet if he is lying on the wire, and thus pull him off. If an ax is near at hand use it to cut the wire, but first make sure that the handle is dry, or wrap it with a coat or cloth.”
After the patient is removed from the current, stimulate by stinging blows on the soles of the shoes, and proceed with artificial respiration.
In gas asphyxiation the treatment is obviously to get the patient into the fresh air and apply artificial respiration, if breathing has ceased.
With all these it also is necessary to think of stimulation, but not until breathing has been resumed, or at least not unless someone else is applying the artificial respiration. Methods of stimulation are to put blankets over the exposed parts of the body and stimulate by rubbing and chafing the body.- When the patient is conscious enough to swallow, stimulants can be given by Moth. The best of these is aromatic spirits of ammonia, one-half teaspoon in a half glass of water. This may be repeated every 15 minutes or so. Second is hot black coffee, and third is some form of alcoholic stimulation.
Heat stroke or sunstroke somewhat resemble these conditions, but the patient is usually breathing, and the most important thing to do is to reduce the high temperature of the body and stimulate. The body heat may be reduced by the use of cool or lukewarm water (this is preferable to ice) and it should be dashed over the body with some force, as by splashing the body with a bucket of water.