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).

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  1. first aid supplies

    Great tips, thanks.



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