Scalp and Head Wounds & Cuts

head and scalp wound

Have you ever wanted to “play” on an ambulance? I have! A few months ago I did a trauma module with the Red Cross which puts me one step closer to a qualification that I really want (can play on the ambulance properly then!). The module was great to do and lasted all weekend. We covered all kinds of things.

During the weekend, we had to do a lot of scenarios. The “casualties” in the scenarios were all “hollywood” with great makeup showing the injury. We had open fractures (so the casualty had bones sticking out), spinal injuries – and my favourite, a gun shot victim (shot in the chest). I really really enjoyed it.

We finished around 5 on the Sunday, and I cycled from the British Red Cross building to home via the Otterspool path along the river Mersey. I wasn’t in a rush and the weather was good.

It wasn’t long before I came along a group of people standing around an older lady sitting on the floor. I stop to see what is happening, and see that the lady had cut her head. So, I park my bike, walk over to the lady and asked what happened. Her daughter told me that she had fallen and not been able to protect her face.

I started to examine the lady’s neck and ask all the probing questions that first aiders are supposed to ask. I even managed to remember to check the pupils. I asked a gentleman (whose name I have forgotten, but I assumed was related somehow to the lady given his concern) to support her back. Quite deliberately, I took control of the scene and started to bring some calm direction.

The daughter said, “this is great, we have two doctors on scene!”

I replied, “Oh, I am not a doctor – but you are my 5th casualty of the day. The last one was a gun-shot victim so you should be OK!”

A kind neighbour gave us an ice pack and some basic first aid supplies. So we patched her up and got her off to A&E.

First Aid for Scalp & Head Wounds

  1. Understand the reason for the cut. My casualty had fallen quite hard on her face, so I wanted to check her neck too (I followed the principles of dealing with a head injury).
  2. Remember that the scalp can bleed a lot! Don’t be freaked out by the amount of blood
  3. Get them in a comfortable position – which will mean sitting down (unless there is a possibility of a spinal injury). Remember that they could faint or collapse with this type of injury – so the floor is a good place for them to be. My casualty was already on the floor, so that was easy. I had her sit up slightly and rest on the knees of a kind helper for support.
  4. If there are any flaps of skin – replace them over the wound. This happened in a motor bike accident that I was at but fortunately for my old lady she didn’t have this – just a lot of blood and bruising.
  5. Reassure. If you are treating a child, the chances are they can be quite hysterical at this stage. Be calm and confident and offer lots of reassurance.
  6. Dress the wound. Ideally you have a sterile dressing and a bandage. You would put the sterile dressing on the wound and then hold it in place with a bandage. I had this with the lady at the Nickleback concert (a great story, I’ll tell you at the end of this post)but with my old lady – I didn’t. Fortunately a close neighbour gave us some clean tea towels and ice blocks.
  7. Off to hospital. The book says that with this kind of injury – you should get them to hospital. There may be an element of discretion here but for me, the lady had a bad cut, some bruising and she landed on her head with full force. She needed to get off to A&E and be checked by a doctor. If you are unsure – always best to go. Head injuries are not great.

The Nickleback Concert

I remember one particular scalp wound very well! It occurred when I was at a Nickleback concert (on duty with BRC). The drummer from the support band recognised a few of the girls in the audience and threw his drum stick to them at the end of his set for a souvenir. The trouble was – he threw it a little too well and the point of the drumstick hit a lady in the middle of her forehead.

This split the skin and quite a lot of blood came out. Whilst I am not supposed to laugh at the misfortune of people when on duty, both the casualty and I found this story extremely funny! So I laughed, a lot! I think it reassured the casualty too because there was a lot of blood everywhere.

So I dressed her head with a sterile dressing, and held it in place with a bandage as the manual tells you to do. I then walked her back to the first aid room. The concert was on a break, and the lights were on so thousands of people watched this lady with a rather large head bandage and blood on her face walk round the front of the stage. There were even some cheers!

Probably the most memorable head wound for me so far!

(In case you want to know the end – the drummer was shocked at what had happened and came to see them I think. They got VIP passes to the next gig. She needed a stitch or two and I got a great story to tell people).

First Aid Info Graphics

I have been a little quite on this site recently but opportunties  to practice first aid have been abounding that is for sure (stories to be posted soon).

I came across a survey done by Mother and Baby magazine whilst doing some research on the web (the Mother & Baby Magazine SAVE A LIFE SURVEY 2002). The survey reminded me of why I first decided to learn first aid as well as do this blog site.  In all of the busyness of life – I keep coming back to something close to my heart: that people (especially parents) should have some basic first aid skills. Whether it is through this blog or through training courses that organisations like the Red Cross do – it is an important skill set (and confidence to have).

Here are some info diagrams that I’ve created based on data from the survey that show my point:

Children choking graphic

3 out of 10 kids swallow chemicals

4 out of 10 kids need to be rushed to hospital

Interesting figures eh?

  • Over 1 in 10 children will have a convulsion or fit in front of you.
  • 2 out of 10 parents have suffered the distress of watching their child choke (7 out 10 of those parents did not know what to do).
  • 3 out of 10 kids have swallowed a chemical such as soap powder (9 out 10 parents did not know what to do)
  • 4 out of 10 kids gets some type of scald or burn

The list goes on…

Every year, over half-a-million kids (more the entire population of Liverpool) go to casualty as a result of an accident in the home. The bottom line, according to the research, was that 9 out of 10 parents don’t know basic first aid.

Kids get into stuff. That is what kids do. It is inevitable, the numbers speak for themselves. It makes sense to be prepared for when that happens. That was definitely my thinking when I decided to learn first aid. And I am not a Paramedic or doctor – I am just a parent who decided to learn some more about First Aid.

Let me know how I can help you learn better basic first aid skills on this blog! Together, we can help keep our children safe.

What to do when someone collapses on your family walk

Family on cliffside path leaning on fence and smiling

As a family we like the outdoors and we like to go walking. In fact we are part of a local church group that goes walking every couple of weeks so feel free to join us if you are near (see for more info). Earlier on this year, we went on a small family walk with a family friend, who subsequently collapsed. So what do you do when this happens to you?

So what happened on our family walk?

We went to Tatton Park which is part of the National Trust. Not what you would call a mountain or anything. They have a lot of land that you can roam in and there is an area with small “peaks and troughs” and trees that makes a great place to play tag with the kids

It was here my friend collapsed. She had complained earlier that her feet were cold and that her hands were cold (but that this was usual) – a sign of poor circulation usually found in women :) my wife has the same problem (as my legs will testify too as she puts her cold feet on them quite often).

She told me though that she was starting to warm up and she quickly joined in the game of tag we were playing with the kids. The next thing I knew she was kneeling and looking very pale. A few seconds later she was probably unconscious (albeit briefly) and very unresponsive (if people are unresponsive to voice commands and pain – they are unconscious).

The thing that impressed me in all this was that she is German and when she did come too a little – she spoke English, which was amazingly helpful!!

First aid when someone collapses

So we

  • elevated her legs (people faint when not enough oxygen reaches the brain – so elevating her legs brings blood back to her body and brain to help with a faster recovery)
  • controlled body temperature
    • Cold Weather: I wrapped her in my foil blanket (she was very cold and shivering. Also, lying still on a cold day is not good – so do whatever you can do to keep them warm. The foil blankets are small, lightweight but extremely effective. The only downside is that you look a bit like a large roast chicken in them!)
    • Summer: here, you’ll have the opposite problem of too much heat (hyperthermia). In which case. remove excess clothing, get them out of the sun if at all possible, given them fluids (like a sports drink) to drink and if you have enough – pour water on them. I’ll do another post on this as we are coming up to summer
  • gave her some chocolate (which will help get some heat into her body as well as make her feel a bit better, it has magical properties where women are concerned)

My wife took two of our children to go and fetch the car so that we could go home. That would take about 20-30 minutes as we had walked quite a way and we had two small children (if I was really concerned about her condition, I would, of course, called an Ambulance).

I monitored her pulse rate, kept talking to her and reassuring her that it would be all OK (it is quite worrying if this happens to you). Josh (my eldest) and I kept her company and eventually managed to get her walking around with some support.

What amazed me was the amount of people that just walked past and didn’t say anything. Picture the scene – there is a guy, with a small boy and a woman lying on the floor wrapped in a foil blanket. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that something here is not right – yet everyone (and I mean everyone) just walked past.

This leads on to an important point – if you need help, make sure you ask someone. Don’t ever assume that people will notice that there is a problem and that they will help. Always ask for help.

Sharon came with the car, and we got the heaters on and after a quick snooze – she was OK again. Phew. It all worked out OK – but it just goes to show you that being prepared is not just a good scout motto, but actually something that is really important – even in Tatton Park.

(If you haven’t seen it – you might also find the post “What Gear to Take on your Family Walk” helpful).

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When to call 999

ambulance rushing through the streets

(Photo courtesy of Benjamin Ellis)

Had a great time today doing some advanced first aid training with the British Red Cross. One of the teachers was a paramedic called Steve Evans who has kindly given a lot of stuff for us to use on this site. Scrolling through his stuff – this one caught my eye:

When to call 999

  • When a Child is unconscious no matter the cause
  • When a Child is fitting
  • When a Child has breathing problems
  • When a Child is wheezing
  • When you suspect Meningitis
  • When a Child has a Big Bleed
  • When there is no pulse below the fracture/dislocation
  • When you are concerned

The golden rule rule is – if in doubt, call them!

About Steve Evans

Steve Evans began as an ambulanceman in 1971. Based in Runcorn, he works for Mersey Regional Ambulance Service NHS Trust as a community paramedic. He is also a founder of RedeemerAid UK, a registered UK Charity, and also promotes a campaign called Don’t Walk Away which raises awareness and teaches youngsters about the dangers of alcohol and what they should do in an emergency situation

What gear to take on your family walk

Family on cliffside path leaning on fence and smiling

Being the kind of guy that I am (passionate about gadgets and first aid), I have to make sure that my walking bag has all the right gear in, just in case! My wife laughs at me with all the “things” I put in my bag now (before my first aid training there was nothing in there apart from waterproofs).

What to carry in your bag when walking with your family

In my bag, I carry:

  • whistle
  • thermal blanket (foil type)
  • Lifeventure Trek Towel (small and very absorbent)
  • first aid kit (of course):
  • wipes
  • saline (to wash out eyes)
  • Suncream
  • chocolate/dextrose
  • knife
  • fire starter
  • head tourch
  • bivvy bag.

It adds a few pounds to the weight of the bag and with the exception of the chocolate and penknife – I hope that I never need to use them.

Carry lots of drink

I also have a Platypus 2L water bag (and the kids have the 1L in their bags – they are just fantastic) and a flask with hot drink (I have a Sigg thermos flask and it is brilliant!) if the weather could be cold (usually hot Ribena as I love it!). The kids also have a small 300ml flask each. We all have water proof clothing with us as well as gloves and hats if it will be cold.

Stay warm / cool

My advice is also wear lots of layers so you can easily control your body temperature. It is better to have layers that you can add or remove rather than large bulky items that mean you either really hot or really cold.

I also have layers for the kids too (not just me) as it is especially important for them as they find it harder to control their body temperature. Spare layers go in our kit bags.


Oh – and did I mention suncream! You’ll need. Lot’s of it. Apply it regularly. Factor 50, especially on kids, and especially if you are walking at any altitude.

Where to get the gear

My favourite online site for all this stuff is webtogs – good prices, free delivery and great customer service (even through Twitter!). Have a look at their site – and contact them if you have questions – I know that they’ll be happy to help.

Should first aid be mandatory for parents?

If I look back over the last few weeks – you could describe it as eventful, especially where first aid is concerned: my son gave a mild concussion to a visiting friend (accidentally of course).

That friend later collapsed that day as we were out walking and loosing consciousness (albeit briefly). She ended up looking like a Kentucky Fried chicken as I wrapped her in a foil blanket to try and retain some heat!

This weekend, my youngest trapped her finger in the door (her big brother slammed it shut on them) – I have never heard her cry like that, and even though I was confident from a first aid point of view, it was never-the-less, quite distressing. This was in sympathy to my wife who slammed the car boot (trunk) onto her own hand – that had a nice swelling to it (I used ice packs for both hand casualties!)

No one prepared me for this when I became a parent. I think they should make learning about first aid mandatory for all would-be parents, because you know (especially if you have boys) that you are going to need the skill set.

Of course, this is just my view – what do you guys think?

Severe cuts and bleeding

applying pressure on a severe cut

Imagine the scene – I am at the end of my four day’s training, the First Aid at Work course run by the Red Cross. It was the first course I did on my journey of first aid qualifications. I was slightly nervous as we had to a take a couple of assessments to pass.

The first assessment was CPR. That wasn’t really a problem.

The second assessment was a role play. You walked into the room with very basic information and you had to handle it as the First Aider.

For my assessment I was told that the casualty had cut themselves and was bleeding heavily. I walked in – and there my casualty was – standing with a severe cut on her arm (the fancy term is incised wound) and the Stanley Knife in her other hand.

She told me that she was cutting carpet, I think, and that the knife had slipped and cut her arm.

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This is a video that I have created with the help of my kids, to promote first aid amongst parents as well as the site. Let me know what you think!

Cuts and grazes

Boy with plaster (bandaid). Photo courtesy of:
(Photo courtesy of:

I had an interesting night on duty with the Red Cross this week at a large concert – the drummer threw his stick into the crowd at the end of their performance and hit someone smack in the middle of the forehead and created quite a decent wound for a drum stick.

There was a lot of blood, but also a lot of kudos for that lady. The band manager got involved. Free tickets and VIP passes were offered (not to me I might add – I just got blood on my shirt. Mind you when I asked her about her vision she called me dashing so I figured she was ok!).

That was the most interesting casualty of the night. The remainder of the night was filled with people who were fainting but no further blood loss to deal with.

So I thought I’d post about cuts as all this is fresh in my mind.

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Fancy words for wounds

Studying. Photo Courtesy of
Photo Courtesy of:

OK – if you want to know the lingo – then here it is, fancy words for wounds:

Incised Wound

This is caused by something sharp (like a knife) usually as it is a clean gut. You can get a lot of bleeding from these wounds as sharp objects can easily cut through blood vessels.

A paper cut (OUCH!) is an incised wound.

It’s easy to remember if you recall from watching those episodes of Mash, ER, Casualty, Holby City and Scrubs that surgeons make incisions with their scalpel.

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