First Aid Management: Blast Injuries

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Blast injuries is a form of physical trauma that occur as a result of direct or indirect exposure to explosions, it often causes life threatening injuries to single or multiple victims all at the same time.

Factors that Affect Likelihood of Blast Injuries

Every explosion generates a complex wave pressure from which blast injuries result from. Several factors affect the probability of blast injuries, which include:

  • Medium – water has greater possibility for injury as compared to explosion in are due to the slow rate of dissipation
  • Distance – the closer  an individual is from an explosion, the great pressure from blast is experienced
  • Site of blast – individuals closer to solid surfaces will be exposed to enhanced blast pressure, therefore are at greater risks of injury

Classification of Blast Injuries

Blast injuries are subdivided into four categories: primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary or miscellaneous blast-related injuries.

Primary Blast Injuries

  • Occurs as a result of direct effect on the tissue of the blast overpressure
  • Organs that are particularly vulnerable these kinds of injuries are air-filled organs, such as the lungs, ear, and gastrointestinal tract, and fluid-filled cavities, such as brain and spinal cord

Secondary Blast Injuries

  • Occurs as a result of people getting hit by debris that is directly displaced by the waves of blast pressure
  • Causes combination of blunt and penetrating trauma injuries

Tertiary Blast Injuries

  • Occurs as a result of high-energy explosions
  • Causes people to fly through the air and hit other objects

Quaternary or Miscellaneous Blast-Related Injuries

  • Injuries that are caused by explosions
  • Such as fire, building collapse, burns, exposure to toxic substances (e.g. carbon monoxide poisoning, cyanide poisoning, radiation), asphyxia and psychological trauma

Causes of Blast Injuries

There are many potential causes of blast injuries, which include:

  • Gas explosions (most common)
  • Armed conflicts
  • Terrorist attacks
  • Suicide bombers

First Aid Management of Blast Injuries

It is necessary to administer first aid to all victims of blast injuries at all times. The proper first aid will depend on the type of injury sustained by an individual. Call for emergency local services immediately. The following is the general protocol in cases of blast injuries:

  • If the individual is unconscious, check his/ her airway, breathing and circulation. If necessary, initiate CPR immediately.
  • If there is bleeding, control the bleeding by applying firm, direct pressure on the wound. Use a dressing or any clean absorbent cloth.
  • Begin measures to decrease heat loss and avoid hypothermia.
  • If there are signs and symptoms of shock, treat so.
blast injuries can often progress shock if not given first aid immediately
blast injuries can often progress shock if not given first aid immediately

To learn how to give proper first aid to all victims of blast injuries, enroll in First Aid Training and CPR Courses.

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