Shit happens. One day you may be witness to a horrible accident where someone's foot or finger gets amputated. This is what you should do to help the victim.

  • The first item is to control the bleeding. Even though the part is missing, try NOT to use a tourniquet if you can avoid it. A tourniquet may kill the section where they will be re-attaching the body part.
  • Treat the victim for shock. Keep warm, elevate the legs if needed, assuming there are no head or spine injuries.
  • Recover the body part. Do not try to clean it unless you happen to have sterile saline.
  • Wrap the body part in clean, dry sterile gauze or any clean cloth. Never use wet or damp dressings, because they will make the amputated part waterlogged and very difficult to reattach.
  • Put the part in a plastic bag or other waterproof container.
  • Place this ON a bed of ice. Never immerse it in ice! Doctors can not reattach limbs or digits that are frostbitten.
  • Get the victim and the appendage to medical help immediately.

In general, amputated parts that are uncooled only last for four hours. After six hours there is little chance for it to remain usable. Proper cooling can extend this out to almost 18 hours. The reason the part becomes useless is that muscle tissue loses viability without blood within four to six hours (uncooled).

Spend a few hours and take a first aid course. The life you save may be someone you love.

First Aid

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