How Do I Administer First Aid for a Spinal Cord Injury?

The most important thing to remember if you suspect someone has suffered from a spinal cord injury is to NEVER MOVE THEM. The exception is if they are in an otherwise life-threatening situation, such as being stuck in a burning car or choking on blood. Otherwise, moving them could only make a bad situation worse. You could cause further injury by jarring bones cartilage disks that are already in a precariously disjointed position.

Here are a few more steps to keep in mind:

  • Call 911: Medical professionals are best able to deal with these kinds of emergency situations. They know what signs to look for in a possible spinal cord injury and how to move the victim.
  • Keep the victim stationary: With adrenaline after an accident, it’s natural for a person to try to get up and do a self-examination. Make sure they don’t move, either purposefully or otherwise, and keep their neck still.
  • Perform modified CPR: If the victim isn’t breathing, conduct CPR. Remember to pump the chest at about 100 beats per minute; that’s the tempo of “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees and “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Do not tilt their head back for mouth-to-mouth; instead, gently lower their jaw.
  • Don’t remove any gear: If you are on the construction site, don’t remove any safety gear from the victim. This includes helmets. Doing so could jar the spine and cause further damage.
  • Know when and how to roll: As mentioned before, one of the only times you should move a victim is if they are choking on blood or vomit. If this is the case, work with at least one other person to gently roll the victim on their side, keeping their back, neck and head aligned.