ST JOHN AMBULANCE: Make sure the airway is clear when dealing with a facial injury

St John Ambulance first aid tipsSt John Ambulance first aid tips
St John Ambulance first aid tips
St John Ambulance, the nation's leading first aid charity has teamed up with the Herald and Gazette to bring you some simple, but life saving, first aid tips '“ this week: recognising and dealing with facial injury.

Fractures of facial bones are usually due to hard impacts.

Serious facial fractures may look frightening.

There may be distortion of the eye sockets, general swelling and bruising and bleeding from the nose or mouth.

The main danger with any facial fracture is that blood, saliva or swollen tissue might obstruct the airway and cause breathing difficulties.

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When examining a casualty with a facial injury, assume that there may also be damage to the skull, brain or neck.

Follows these steps to help:

• Call 999/112 for emergency help.

• Help the casualty to sit down and make sure the airway is open and clear.

• Ask the casualty to spit out any blood, displaced teeth or dentures. Keep any displaced teeth to send to hospital with him.

• Gently place a cold compress against the casualty’s face to help reduce pain and minimise swelling – you can use a clean towel soaked in cold water and wrung out or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a dry cloth.

• Treat for shock if necessary.

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• Monitor and record vital signs while waiting for help to arrive.

Do not give the casualty anything to eat or drink as an anaesthetic might be needed, moisten the lips if he complains of thirst.

Never leave the casualty unattended unless you have to go and call for emergency help.

• For those looking for quick, easily accessible first aid information, the St John Ambulance app is available free on smartphones and the website ( offers demo videos, an interactive game, and lots of free advice. For more information about first aid courses please call 0303 003 0101.


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