What to Do When You or a Friend Breaks an Arm

People who play sports are often prone to injuries. Even if we ensure that all the best safety standards are implemented, and that both ours and the adversary team prudently play by strictly following all the rules, sometimes accidents still happen. But bad stuff happens even when you’re not playing sports: any physical activity can be dangerous, including skating or playing airsoft.

Why it’s important to react quickly

Even when you’re just taking care of a few kids running around in a playground, the risk that someone falls, slips or harms himself while dropping to the ground is always present. One of the most common accidents that an active person may incur into is a broken arm. Although calling out for professional help and waiting for an ambulance to arrive is always the best choice, sometimes it’s necessary to provide some basic treatment to the injured in the meanwhile.

For example, you may have to act rapidly and provide some basic forms of first aid, such as when the patient is bleeding or roads are too distant for ambulances to quickly reach the place. Nonetheless, you must be very careful – improvised treatment can in fact be even more dangerous than no treatment at all if not properly administered.

The first steps during an emergency

The first thing to do is to check if the person was seriously injured and bleeding is present. Use a clean cloth or towel to apply a delicate but firm pressure to the wound area to stop the bleeding, but do not touch the bone or try to put it back in place if it’s protruding or sticking out of the skin. Also, check if the person suffered any other kind of serious injury such as to the head, neck, or back, and perform a quick check on its body to see if he’s bleeding from other sources. People who are in shock are sometimes unable to properly perceive pain, and thus can be unaware of movements that can further worsen their conditions. If possible, cut the sleeve to check the injury.

Try to reduce swelling and pain by applying ice to the injured area and elevating the arm above the heart (only if possible, do not force movements). Do not put the ice bag directly on the skin: use a towel or cloth to protect the patient from cold burnings, and remove it for a while every 20-30 minutes.

If the injury is not too serious, you should try to immobilize and stabilize the arm. This can be the trickiest part of broken arm first aid treatment as you should avoid moving the arm as much as possible, so do it only if you’re sure of what you’re doing. You can use a towel or the previously cut sleeve as a sling and place it under the arm and around the neck. You can also carefully tape the arm to a rolled-up newspaper or other rigid item (like a stick or a ruler) and tape it in place.

Final advice

It might occur that you have some medications at hand such as an over-the-counter anti inflammatory drug or a pain reliever, and think that giving them to the patient could be a good idea. Just wait though. He might have allergies or intolerances, so always remember to ask the patient if he can take these medications.

 Also, check if the injured suffers from any pre-existing condition which might require additional emergency treatment, including hemophilia, or if he’s already taking any other medication. Just don’t be overzealous: do not rush to a pharmacy, and let the professionals do their job. Even if he’s temporarily unable to move, he can always have his prescription delivered directly to his home by using a pharmacy that delivers, such as Medly.

The last, yet not the least important advice, is to always keep your head cool. An injured person can be very nervous, so try to avoid stressing him further. To help him calm himself you should first calm yourself down, so if you’re too scared or nervous, let someone else help him to avoid doing more harm than good.

But don’t forget: do not improvise yourself a nurse if you have no knowledge of first aid, and always call 911 as soon as you can!