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SUBCHAPTER: First aid in the mountains

First aid techniques in alpine terrain

If an accident occurs in alpine terrain, injuries can range from small scrapes to heavy bleeding, broken bones or loss of consciousness. If necessary, the rope partner may need to perform first aid and must be able to perform the necessary techniques – this is the only way to help the injured person quickly.

01 Injuries caused by physical impact

EXTERNAL INJURIES

Any part of the body is susceptible to injury resulting from a fall, collision against rock, and impact from falling rock – everything from the head and arms to the back, chest or abdomen and feet. Possible injuries include strained or torn ligaments, fractures, and damaged muscles or blood vessels.

Click on an area of the body to discover different ailments: Here you will find a description of typical symptoms for each injury, important first aid measures and advice as to whether you should make an emergency call.

EXTERNAL INJURIES

Any part of the body is susceptible to injury resulting from a fall, collision against rock, and impact from falling rock – everything from the head and arms to the back, chest or abdomen and feet. Possible injuries include strained or torn ligaments, fractures, and damaged muscles or blood vessels.

Click on an area of the body to discover different ailments: Here you will find a description of typical symptoms for each injury, important first aid measures and advice as to whether you should make an emergency call.

02 Illnesses without physical impact

TREAT INTERNAL / OTHER AILMENTS

In addition to the typical injuries resulting from falls, impacts or falling rock, there are also a number of serious symptoms relevant to climbers which may appear suddenly without external cause (e.g. heart attack, asthma attack) or as a result of high or low external temperatures (e.g. sunstroke, hypothermia).

03 Treatment steps: Accident victim unresponsive

CHECK­ING VI­TAL FUNC­TIONS
US­ING THE ABC TECH­NIQUES

The ABC is a model that can be used to quickly treat heart and circulatory issues.

AIR­WAY

  1. Turn the person on their back
  2. An intensive mouth check is no longer included as part of first aid. However: If it is apparent that the airways are blocked by foreign bodies, these should be removed.

BRE­A­THING

  1. You should regularly check the person is breathing.
  2. See: Is the ribcage moving?
  3. Hear: Can the first responder hear the person breathing?
  4. Feel: Can the first responder feel a warm airflow coming from the accident victim’s mouth or nose?

If they are not breathing, are breathing infrequently or are gasping for air, you must begin resuscitating.

CIR­CU­LA­TI­ON

If the accident victim is breathing normally, there is proper circulation. If they are not breathing normally, there is no circulation.

ATTENTION: Any bleeding must be stopped immediately and is the number one priority!
If, as well as being unconscious, the accident victim also stops breathing normally, the first responder must start resuscitating immediately.

No breathing

RE­SUS­CI­TA­TION

If you cannot tell if the unconscious person is breathing normally, you must immediately make an emergency call. This is immediately followed by cardiopulmonary resuscitation to ensure the brain is supplied with oxygen. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation refers to a combination of chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth/nose in a ratio of 30 to 2.

CHEST COM­PRES­SIONS

  1. Kneel next to the lifeless person in line with their ribcage.
  2. Place the heel of one hand on the center of the ribcage. Place your other hand on top of it and link your fingers. Keep your arms straight.
  3. Use your own body weight to push the lifeless person’s chest down five to six centimeters. Apply pressure firmly and quickly!
  4. Completely remove pressure from the ribcage after every chest compression.
  5. After 30 chest compressions, give mouth-to-mouth/nose twice: Close the nose with one hand while placing the other on the person’s chin and tilting their head backward. Breathe in normally and then place your lips around the accident victim’s mouth and breathe out normally.

Perform chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth/nose in a ratio of 30:2 until professional help (mountain rescue / emergency doctor) has arrived or you are exhausted.

Breathing

STA­BLE RE­COV­ERY PO­SI­TION

If the accident victim is unconscious but is breathing normally, they are to be put in the stable recovery position. The stable recovery position ensures that airways remain open and vomit or blood can flow out. The accident victim is thereby protected from choking.

NOTE: Any loss of consciousness is an indication of a serious health disorder and is therefore life-threatening. You must make an emergency call without delay!

PRO­CE­DURE

  1. Kneel down on the downhill side of the unconscious person
  2. Lay their near-side arm at a 90° angle next to them
  3. Bend their far-side leg and hold in place
  4. Hold their far-side hand, lay the back of the hand on their cheek (the one facing towards you) and hold in place
  5. Turn the injured person toward you at the knee
  6. Carefully pull your own hand out from under the injured person’s head so that they are lying only on the back of their hand
  7. Tilt their head backward
  8. Open their mouth slightly. The mouth should be slightly lower than their stomach, so that blood or vomit can run out.

Even in the stable recovery position, breathing must be checked constantly. Breathing can stop at any time.

Safety on alpine terrain

Want to take the next step and gain practical knowledge? Then register for SAFETY ACADEMY first aid courses now!

ORTOVOX FIRST AID COURSES

The course concept has been specially tailored for alpine mountaineers. These alpine first aid courses will teach you the basics of life-saving emergency techniques and how to respond appropriately using simple methods.

Book your place on a course

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