First Aid: Amputations and Lost Teeth

HSE accident statistics tell us that in the reporting year 2020/2021 there were 456 reported amputation injuries in the workplace. Historically this figure has been around the 580 mark, so taking into account reduced access to work thorough the Covid-19 pandemic reducing this figure, statistically the chances of an amputation in the workplace are relatively low given the UK workforce is approximately 32.8 million people.

Clearly people employed in certain industries, construction or manufacturing for example, are more likely to suffer amputation type injuries than others due to the nature of the work they carry out.

How Do You Deal With An Amputation?

Infographic of how to deal with an amputationIn the unlikely event that you do have to deal with an amputation, it is important to stay calm, look for what caused the injury and make sure the area is safe and that it is safe to approach the injured person. Find the first aid kit and put on PPE, particularly nitrile gloves.

The injured limb, or digit may be either completely detached or partially attached by tissue. If you have attended any of my courses you will know that I like my casualties to be on the floor for bleeding for the simple reason you can’t fall of it.

So if able, sit the casualty on the floor, or in a chair. Reassure the casualty and apply pressure to the wound with a non-fluffy dressing to control the bleeding. If the bleeding cannot be controlled by pressure and you are trained to do so, a tourniquet may be required for severe amputations. Do not worry about the amputated part at this point, but continue to apply pressure and reassure the casualty.

At this point, dependant on your level of training, confidence, availability of first aid equipment and injured body part, you may need to call 999 so instruct a bystander to do this. Once the bleeding has been controlled, dress the wound with an appropriate dressing.

Monitor the casualty throughout, if they begin to feel dizzy, their breathing increases and they start to become pale and sweaty, lie them down, and only if their injuries allow, raise their legs as per the treatment for shock.

Moving to the amputated part, collect it up and place it in a clean plastic bag or wrap it in cling film, and then put it onto an ice pack. Do not place the part directly onto the ice as this will cause ice burns. Send the part to hospital with the casualty.

What About a Lost Tooth?

Tooth in the palm of a handWhile nowhere near as severe as amputation, certain industries also carry a higher risk of tooth loss. In relation to adult teeth only, a knocked-out tooth can be looked after in one of two ways.

Hold it by the white bit that sticks out of the gum (the crown). Do not touch the root, have the casualty lick it clean if it’s dirty, or quickly rinse it in cold running water for no more than 10 seconds. Try to put it back into the hole in the gum, if the tooth goes back in bite down gently on a clean cloth to hold the tooth in place.

If it does not go in easily put it in milk or if no milk is available, put it in saliva by having the casualty spit into a clean container. Have the casualty bite down on a clean gauze to control the bleeding. If the tooth is stored in milk or saliva, the casualty needs to be seen by a dentist as soon as possible.

Understanding how to respond in an emergency situation could help to save lives and prevent long-term injury. Learn how to handle accidents and emergencies with our QNUK accredited First Aid At Work course – learn more here.

Written by Neil Ward, Training Consultant at WA Management.

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