After giving first aid or attempting CPR, the next step you want to take naturally, is to move the victim to the hospital. In places where emergency/ambulance services are not readily available, the task of moving victims of accidents and other acute events to the hospital is left to laypeople who may not have any training or experience in doing so. Over-enthusiastic carrying or moving can cause more harm than good; such as paralysis and death in case of spinal cord injuries. 
Here are some useful tips…
*Always keep the head and neck as stable as possible. Especially in road traffic accidents, always assume that the victim has a head/spinal cord injury until proven otherwise. If he has an helmet on, do not remove. Support the neck by stabilizing in-between two towels or pillows. While moving into a vehicle, someone should always hold the head in alignment with the rest of the body. 

*Drag (or roll) rather than lift. 

This is safer for the victim and less stressful for the volunteers moving him. Quickly scan through the victim’s body and check for signs of injuries especially, bone fractures. If he is injured in the arms, drag him by his legs and vice versa. Again, secure the head and neck before dragging. If he is injured in both arms and legs, then drag him by his clothes. However, if he is a small-stature adult or a child, you can carry him in your arms like a baby (cradle method) or on your back (backpack method) 

*Lift in one block. 

If the victim is unconscious or totally paralyzed, move him in one block. To do this, you need at least 4 volunteers: someone to support and lift the head and neck, two people by his sides, to lift him at the trunk and buttocks, and one person to lift the legs. The lead person should count to 3 and everyone should lift at once. Leaving the neck or buttocks sagging can cause or worsen spinal cord injury. Gently transfer the victim onto a strecher or wooden plank to keep his body horizontal. 

*If you suspect a fracture in any limb, stabilize it with a splint, using a wooden or metallic board to keep the bones together and prevent further damage. If there is obvious bleeding, apply pressure on the wound using a clean cloth. 

*Appropriate vehicle. 

Ambulances are designed to keep accident and emergency victims in proper posture until they reach the hospital. In the absence of an ambulance, it is important to maintain this posture as much as possible. If the victim is conscious and can ambulate, he can be moved in any vehicle but he must be well secured with a seat belt and he should be flanked by two people on both sides. If he is unconscious or paralyzed, he must be moved in and out of the vehicle in one block as described above. The body should be kept horizontal with a slight tilting of the head to the side (unless there is neck injury) to prevent aspiration. 

*If the victim is bleeding, or has bled considerably, elevate (not bend) the lower part of the body to an angle of about 30 degrees. This will help to redirect blood flow to the brain and prevent brain death or permanent brain damage. If she is a pregnant woman, let her lie on her left side or tilt the pregnant uterus away from the center of the abdomen. This will relieve the pressure of the uterus on the major blood vessels, thereby enhancing blood flow to the mother’s vital organs. 


Author: Khadijah Sanni-Tijani

Khadijah is a young Nigerian woman, a muslim, a wife, a mum, a doctor and a blogger. She was born and raised in Ibadan, Nigeria. She is currently practising in Saudi Arabia.

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