and games until
someone pokes out an eye — or
breaks a leg, hits a tree, trips
over the cat, falls off a cliff… you
get the idea. Accidents happen.
When you’re the first person to show
up after some mishap or other, you can
make a big difference: You can help.
Dr. Gayle Braunholtz is a partner in the
Vail Valley Emergency Physician Group,
which staffs the emergency department
at Vail Valley Medical Center. She's
also the medical director of Gypsum
Urgent Care. It's safe to say she knows a
thing or two about injuries and sudden
threats to a person’s well being.
At the top of the list, of course, is "call 911."
The sooner an ambulance crew is on the
way, the better. Of course, there are times
when seconds count and help is minutes
away — and that’s where you come in. Here’s
Braunholtz’s advice about what to do when
you’ve got an injured person on your hands.
For a badly bleeding area, apply direct
pressure over the wound. That should at
least slow the bleeding enough until help
arrives. "Don't release pressure to check if
the wound has stopped bleeding," she says.
A tourniquet — a tightly wrapped bandage
that stops all circulation between the wound
and the heart — "should be reserved for a
life-over-limb scenario," she says. "A properly
applied tourniquet becomes excruciatingly
painful within 15 to 20 minutes, and should
be left to professionals whenever possible.”
With broken bones, the best way to as-
sist is by helping someone stay still
and as comfortable as possible.
Braunholtz notes that broken bones have
sharp edges that can poke through the skin,
or worse — sever an artery or nerve. A make-
shift splint can help stabilize a broken bone.
While moving a broken-bone patient as
little as possible is always advisable, there
are exceptions — if someone is head-down
in a tree well, or in the middle of a road,
moving to safety is a good first step.
SCOTT N. MILLER
When misfortune strikes, you
can make things better