In the case of a strong, high-impact collision, a climber can get a cut on the head in spite of a helmet. The helmet has still done an important job, as it has prevented a more serious injury. A head injury from a fall or from falling rocks can result in concussion. STEP 1: CHECK THE AMOUNT OF BLEEDING The best way to handle a cut or laceration depends upon how heavily it is bleeding. Lightly bleeding wounds are not life-threatening and can be attended to with less urgency. However, if the wound is bleeding heavily, the situation is life-threatening and a regular dressing will not suffice. A pressure dressing will be required. STEP 2: PUT ON DISPOSABLE GLOVES It is important to protect yourself when attending to the wounds of others: Always put on disposable gloves! If the wound is dirty, clean the surface with a compress. Then cover it with a second sterile compress and bandage.
First responders should never attempt to remove any foreign bodies from the wound, not even small stones. First responders must not put any ointment, tinctures, antiseptic, sprays or powder on wounds either. STEP 3: BANDAGE THE WOUND Lay a sterile compress on the wound. As it is often difficult to fix bandages to the head because of hair or the head shape, you need to first make two vertical loops around and the chin and head, then fix the dressing horizontally. It’s best to secure the end of the bandage with a few strips of tape. STEP 4: EMERGENCY CALL YES OR NO? Decide together whether it’s possible to continue with the tour, or whether to abseil back down. If you are unsure as to whether a wound requires stitches, you should always assume it does. A doctor should then be sought within the next five hours. After this time the edges of the wound begin to heal, making stitching more difficult. Steri-Strips: Many climbers carry wound closure strips with them, to promptly deal with cuts and lacerations. These are not ordinary adhesive bandages; they are designed to close wounds. However, only doctors are authorized to close wounds. If you use Steri-Strips while out on a trip, you should seek the advice of a doctor within five hours. The doctor will rinse and clean the wound and close it correctly. This is the only way to prevent painful infection or even blood poisoning, which can be life-threatening if not identified.