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    Trapped in a Scary Movie? Want to Survive? Six First Aid Skills You'll Need

    Dr. Mary Williams, RN, DC

    About the author

    Dr. Mary Williams, RN, DC

    Dr. Mary Williams, R.N., D.C is a Doctor of Chiropractic with an extensive background as a Registered Nurse and experienced Core Instructor for the American Heart Association. She has over 30 years of hands-on medical and instructional experience.

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    Have you ever thought about what it would take to survive in a scary movie—and whether you’d make it to the credits? Surviving a scary movie takes smarts, courage, and the ability to know not to split up in the haunted house. In addition—although you rarely see people using it in the movies—it would take some serious first aid skills. Here are a few crack first-aid skills you should know to make it to the end of a horror film

    arm with tourniquet

    Know how to make a tourniquet

    Tourniquets are a questionable tactic under most emergency situations—only to be used in the direst of circumstances. That’s because a tourniquet binds your limb so tightly that it cuts off blood flow—not just to the wound, but to the entire limb. This can cause serious tissue damage to the point where the limb might need to be amputated.

    However, in battlefield situations, tourniquets are much more commonly used. They’re fast, they’re easy, anyone can make one, and they get the job done without the need to constantly hold a pad of sterile gauze to a wound. You can tie off your tourniquet and keep fighting without worrying about bleeding out. Sure, you might lose the limb later—but in the meantime, you get to keep yourself alive.

    If you got slashed with the killer’s knife and have to avoid losing a lot of blood while you stay alive and maybe even take out the villain, a tourniquet is the way to go. If you’re the one doing the stalking, however—and you carelessly cut yourself while on a murderous rampage—you might want to retreat to your evil lair, if it’s close by, and use sterile gauze.

    Know how to treat a gunshot wound

    In reality, a gunshot wound is one of the more serious injuries you can get, and there’s very little you can do with first aid to actually treat one. With some wounds, however—particularly those to extremities rather than the torso or head—you may be able to stabilize the victim while you wait for help.

    If the wound is bleeding, apply direct pressure to it using a sterile gauze pad or bandage. You can also press on a pressure point, such as the one between the elbow and armpit, the one on the bikini line in the groin area, or the area behind the knee to reduce bleeding in the arm or upper / lower leg. Keep the victim warm—use blankets if necessary—and elevate the wound if possible

    applying pressure to injured arm

    Know how to control bleeding

    Knives, guns, and other weapons will be coming at you fast and furious in a horror movie—and just knowing how to staunch a bloody wound can be a very handy skill. If you want to avoid using a tourniquet and don’t have time to sit still and put pressure on a wound—and if you’re in an apocalyptic situation and can raid a hospital—you should try to get your hands on a chemical hemostat such as Celox or QuickClot. Check the package for instructions, but using these is fairly simple. Usually it just involves putting the chemical in the wound, either by pouring it in or using the sponge or applicator provided with the package, and applying pressure for about five minutes. These have been shown to be very useful in treating major bleeding situations.

    injured leg

    Know how to splint a broken bone

    Knives and guns aren’t the only threat out there. The villain could try to run you over with a car or bludgeon you with a dull instrument. If you want to get out alive, and help your friends and family survive as well, you should know how to deal with broken bones.

    The first thing you should do with a broken bone is immobilize the area. In real life, if you’re dealing with a broken bone, you shouldn’t make a splint unless you know what you’re doing. In a horror movie, however, you’ll probably have to rely on yourself.

    To make a splint, first find a rigid base for it. This could be something like two sticks or a sheet of cardboard. Pad the broken limb with gauze, cloth, torn-up sheets, clothes, or whatever you have on hand. Apply the stiff base on both sides of the broken bone; do not try to set the bone. Wrap a bandage around the bone, base, and padding to keep everything in place.

    bio hazard bag

    Know how to handle biohazards

    Depending on the movie you’re in, you could be facing an infection or parasite that gets passed along by contact with infected bodily fluids. It’s important to know how to deal with biohazards such as infected blood, especially if you might get splattered with it.

    If you get infected blood on you, wash it off with soap and water immediately. Inspect yourself to determine whether you have any cuts or scrapes that the fluid could have gotten into; if you get it in your eye, flush it out immediately with water—take out your contact lenses first if you wear them.

    If you do have a cut and you think some of the infected fluid got into it, squeeze it to encourage it to bleed. This will hopefully push the newly-infected blood out of your body, and help clean the wound. Then wash it with soap and water.

    If zombie blood or saliva got into your mouth, eyes, or an open wound, you are probably dead. You may be able to save yourself by making a tourniquet, preventing the infection from running from the bite to the rest of your body. However, this may not work—or worse, turn your limb into a zombie limb that’s bent on killing the rest of you. Amputation may be the only option at that point.

    It’s not easy surviving a horror movie. But knowing basic first aid is a rare skill—you don’t see it very often in horror films—and it could mean the difference between life and death. You never know when your life might turn into a scary movie, so brush up on your first aid skills—and you’ll always be prepared.


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