Category Archives: Guides: First Aid, Survival & more

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Fish CPR: Saving Your Finned Friends


In honor of April, National Pet First Aid Month, we will be featuring interesting articles related to our animal friends and their well being and safety.

Maybe you won a goldfish in a fair game when you were a kid, kept it in a small bowl in your room until it flipped over to it’s untimely death, and you said goodbye as you watched it round the toilet bowl. Or maybe now you own a giant tank in your apartment, water temperature and PH balanced perfected, filled with an assortment of beautiful tropical fish. Either way, we’ve all had at least a small connection with fish, no matter how fleeting  According to a 2013 study, there are 1.2 million fish tanks in the United States alone.1

Fish tend to be the relatively quieter, cheaper option for most Americans over cats and dogs – so they buy their kid a pretty beta fish and simply watch it swim peacefully through the waters. Some fish owners are not so lax about their beloved, finned friends!

In 2005, “fish surgery” gained a short spotlight in Dr. Greg Lewbart, who ran the worlds first aquatic medicine residency program at North Carolina State University! To prep the fish for surgery, a constant stream of water and anesthesia via a plastic tube is inserted into the fishes mouth. It is then placed onto the operating table to undergo one of the many procedures offered: laser surgery, tumor removal, or even lost eye replacement.

These fish surgeries are not cheap. They can cost anywhere between a few hundred dollars, to a few thousand2 according to PBS journalist Rebecca Skloot. Now, there are more than 2,000 fish veterinarians in America.

If fish surgery seems extreme to you, don’t worry – just know how to keep your fish happy and healthy, and you won’t have to rush your fish to the vet anytime soon. Fish have a remarkable will to live, and have been known to almost “come back to life!”

A modified version of CPR can be performed on your fish. If you can see they are losing color, swimming sideways, or acting abnormally, you simply need to “push” oxygenated water through the gills. You can accomplish this by “swimming” your fish through the water yourself or holding him under waterfall.3

Your fish may not “pop” back to life, especially if he has been out of water for an extended period of time. Serious fish owners should invest in steroids, such as Dexamethasone (generally available at local pet stores), to spray on fish that may have leaped out of the tank and weakened.

Fish are quickly becoming more than a mere decoration in our homes, and we must learn how to properly care for all the animals we choose to adopt! Have you ever had to perform CPR or first aid on your fish friend?

1  (January 8. 2013)
2 (October 18th, 2005)

General First Aid Guide

Welcome to! Below, we have listed some ailments that may affect you or your loved ones, and provided instruction on how to prepare and train yourself to react in the given emergency situation. You may want to bookmark this page, and become familiar with some of the protocol, as you may be the one who is called upon to save a life someday. This is a general guide, and we will be going into more detailed and specific guides in the future. Being prepared is the most effective way to save lives, and you can start by purchasing kits for your home, car, or office: First Aid Supplies, Survival Kits, and First Aid Kits.

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Adult CPR

  • Establish unresponsiveness
  • Call 911
  • Airway: Open airway (head tilt/chin lift)
  • Breathing: Check for breathing 3 to 5 seconds (look, listen, & feel)
  • If patient is not breathing: Give 2 breaths (pinch the nose)
  • Circulation: Check Pulse at the carotid artery for 5-10 sec.
  • If patient has NO PULSE:
    1. Place patient on a firm surface on his/her back
    2. Place hands (one on top the other) on the lower ½ of the sternum (chest)
    3. Give 15 compressions (in 10 -12 sec.)
    4. Give 2 breaths
    5. Continue 15 compressions with 2 breaths for 4 cycles
    6. After 1 min, recheck pulse and breathing
  • If patient has regained pulse, discontinue compressions
  • If patient is still not breathing, ventilate 1 breath every 5 sec.

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Infant CPR

  • Establish unresponsiveness
  • Call 911
  • Airway: Open airway (head tilt/chin lift)
  • Breathing: Check for breathing 3 to 5 seconds (look, listen, & feel)
  • If patient is not breathing: Give 2 breaths (pinch the nose)
  • Circulation: Check pulse at the brachial artery (arm) for 5-10 sec.
  • If infant has NO PULSE:

    1. Place infant on a firm surface on his/her back
    2. Place 2 fingers 1 finger width below the nipple line
    3. Give 5 quick compressions
    4. Give 1 breath after every 5 compressions
    5. Continue 5 compressions with 1 breaths
    6. After 1 min, recheck pulse and breathin
  • If infant has regained pulse, discontinue compressions
  • If infant is still not breathing, ventilate 1 breath every 3 sec.

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  • ASK: "Are you choking?" if patient can talk or has poor air exchange
  • Call 911
  • Stand behind patient and put your arms around the stomach
  • Place your fist above the navel
  • Perform abdominal thrusts until patient expels object or becomes unconscious
  • If patient is unconscious, place his/her back on a firm surface
  • Check mouth for object
  • Open Airway (head tilt/chin lift)
  • Attempt to ventilate
  • If air DOES NOT GO IN:

    1. Perform abdominal thrusts
    2. Place hands (one on top the other) above navel
    3. Perform 5 inward and upward thrusts
    4. Check the mouth, perform finger sweep
    5. Open airway, re-attempt to ventilat

    1. Continue 5 abdominal thrusts, finger sweep of mouth, attempt ventilation
  • If air DOES GO IN:

    1. Open airway, check for breathing, & circulation
    2. Perform CPR if necessary

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Bleeding Control

  • Direct pressure over the wound using the hand or a pressure dressing
  • Elevate the wound above the level of the heart
  • Pressure points: Use finger pressure to compress supplying artery against underlying bone, use the brachial artery for arms and the femoral artery for legs

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Shock is inadequate blood flow to the tissues and organs of the body. It is brought on whenever there is severe injury to the body or a shock to the nervous system. All bodily processes are affected and vital functions slow down.

In the early stages, the body compensates for a decreased blood flow to the tissues by constricting blood vessels in the skin, soft tissues, and muscles. This causes the patient to have:

  • Cold, clammy, pale skin
  • Weakness and nausea
  • Rapid, labored breathing – causing restlessness and anxiety
  • Increased pulse rate and decreased blood pressure

As shock progresses, the patient will become apathetic and relatively unresponsive, and pupils will dilate, finally becoming unconscious.

Treatment for shock is as follows:

  • Check ABC’s: Airway, Breathing, Circulation
  • Control all obvious bleeding
  • Keep patient lying down, legs slightly elevated
  • Prevent loss of body heat
  • Splint any broken bones
  • Avoid excessive handling
  • Check vital signs: Pulse, breathing, etc.
  • No liquids

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Heart Attack

Generally, heart attacks occur in 2 forms, angina pectoris and myocardial infarction (MI). The symptoms of both are the same: pain in the chest region radiating to the jaw and arms, pale and sweating skin, weak pulse, shortness of breath, and nausea.

Angina occurs when oxygen demand exceeds supply during physical or emotional stress. Pain subsides with rest, oxygen and nitroglycerine, and lasts only 3 to 8 minutes.

MI (Myocardial Infarction) pain is not related to stress and is not relieved by rest or nitroglycerine. This pain lasts more than 10 minutes.

Treatment in both cases consists of:

  • Check ABC’s: Airway, Breathing, Circulation
  • Call 911 immediately
  • Calm and reassure the patient
  • Place patient in semi-reclining position or in most comfortable position for them
  • Ask questions about any previous heart problems and medications they may be taking

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  • Protect the patient from injury during seizure
  • Maintain the ABC’s: Airway, Breathing, Circulation
  • If the patient regains consciousness, reassure and calm him/her

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Diabetes is a disease in which the body is unable to use sugar at a cellular level. Insulin is a drug used by diabetics to promote cellular use of sugar. When a diabetic uses his insulin but does not eat, Insulin Shock may occur. By not eating, this person has failed to replenish the sugar levels in his body, leaving the insulin nothing to work with. Since the brain needs a constant supply of sugar, shock and unconsciousness will occur if the sugar levels are not replenished.

Symptoms: Pale, moist skin; dizziness, headache; full, rapid pulse; thirst; slurring speech, seizures; coma. Sometimes mistaken for alcohol intoxication.

Treatment: Immediate improvement following oral administration of carbohydrates (sugar, candy, juice, soda pop).

If a diabetic fails to take insulin, his/her body cannot use sugar for cellular energy, and other, more harmful sources of energy are used. The result is acid waste products in the blood and excessive fluid loss causing Diabetic Coma.

Symptoms: Air hunger manifested by deep sighing respirations; dehydration manifested by dry, warm skin; a sweet or fruity breath odor; a rapid weak pulse; unresponsiveness

Treatment: Prompt transport to hospital for insulin

When in doubt, give sugar! It will not worsen a diabetic coma, but will help insulin shock.

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Cause: Prolonged exposure to cold. Water conducts heat 250 times faster than air.

Symptoms: Low body temperature; shivering; apathy and sleepiness; slow heart rate and respirations, unconsciousness.

Treatment: ABC’s; rewarming by drying the patient, wrapping in a blanket, and moving out of the wind. Hot fluids if tolerated. Use vehicle heater if conditions permit.

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Heat Exhaustion

Cause: Overexposure to heat

Symptoms: Weakness; cool and clammy skin; excessive sweating; nausea

Treatment: Bring to cool, airy place; lay victim down, feet elevated; liquids unless vomiting.

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Heat Stroke

Cause: Failure of the sweating mechanism, allowing body temperature to rise to
dangerous levels

Symptoms: Hot, dry, red skin; full rapid pulse; throbbing headache; unconsciousness

Treatment: Immediate cooling by applying cold water and fanning; call an ambulance.

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Burns are classified by degree. First Degree is a reddening of the skin such as a mild sunburn. Second Degree is when the skin blisters, as in a deep sunburn or direct contact with hot objects.

Treatment for First and Second Degree burns is to immerse in cold water for 15 minutes then apply sterile dressing. Cold compresses reduce pain.

A Third Degree burn is when the skin is charred. Treatment is to cover burn with a sterile dressing and treat for shock.

  • Do NOT apply ice
  • Do NOT apply butter, oil or other substance to the wound

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Eye Injury

Do not examine eyes with dirty hands. Foreign particles should be rinsed out using eye wash or clean water. Use a Q-tip for stubborn particles. If something is stuck in the eye, cover both eyes and let a doctor remove it.

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Impaled object

  • Do not remove object
  • Stop bleeding
  • Stabilize the object
  • Send patient to hospital

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Fractures & Splinting

A fracture is a break in the bone and is either closed or open. Closed fracture: The bone is broken but there is no connecting wound from the break in the bone through the skin. Open fracture: The bone is broken with connecting wound through the surface of the skin. The danger of infection exists.

Symptoms: Swelling, pain, tenderness, deformity, protruding bone, grating sound.

Treatment: Prevent further damage. Immobilize the fracture by applying gentle traction and splinting.

These steps should also relieve pain. Splints should always be long enough to extend beyond the joint just above and below the fracture bone. Check the pulse and feeling around the fracture site.