How to Treat a Sucking Chest Wound

Treat a Sucking Chest Wound
Treat a Sucking Chest Wound

How to Treat a Sucking Chest Wound. A sucking chest wound is a medical emergency and a matter of life and death. Every second counts while waiting for emergency help to arrive. Call 911 immediately, then follow these emergency guidelines to treat a sucking chest wound and save a life.

Recognize the symptoms of a sucking chest wound. This injury is caused by an object that enters the chest wall and possibly the lung; such as a bullet or knife, even being impaled by a stick. The symptoms are the obvious penetration of the object, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and blood that has a frothy appearance. The frothy appearance comes from air mixing with the blood. You may also hear a sucking sound, which is why it's named "sucking chest wound."

Call 911 immediately so help can be on it's way while you are treating the sucking chest injury.

Leave the penetrating object in the chest, do not remove it. Removing the object can cause further damage to the chest or lung.

Cover the sucking chest wound with an airtight seal. This is the most important thing you can do to save the life of the injured person. Find Saran wrap, cellophane, foil or anything that will not allow air to escape. Cut the material you are using for an airtight seal at least two inches larger than the wound. The airtight seal needs to be larger than the wound so it doesn't get pulled into the wound.

Tape the top and both sides of the airtight seal to the skin. Leave the bottom part of the seal untaped to allow air to escape but not enter the wound. If the chest injury is in a form that you can't tape in this way, seal the sucking chest wound with the airtight seal and tape all around, leaving a flap open near the bottom.

Apply a clean bandage to the wound if possible, this will keep the chest injury as clean as possible. If you don't have a bandage nearby, use a clean towel or wash cloth. Stabilize the protruding object with towels or a heavy material to keep it from moving and causing further injury. Don't tape the bandage to the object, just stabilize it.

Use direct pressure on the wound after a dressing or towel has been applied. Be careful not to move the airtight seal while applying pressure. Applying direct pressure for five minutes will help slow the bleeding; don't use too much force.

Turn the injured victim onto his side, placing the injured side closest to the ground. By placing the victim on his injured side, the good lung will be protected and it will be easier for the victim to breathe. If this position is uncomfortable, help the victim into a sitting position with something to lean on. This will help the victim breathe easier.

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