First Aid Merit Badge
Moving Victims Non-Life Threatening Injuries Shock
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First Aid merit badge 5e: Describe symptoms, treatment and prevention of: Bruises, strains, sprains
First Aid merit badge 5h: Describe symptoms, treatment and prevention of: Broken, chipped, or loosened tooth
First Aid merit badge 5i: Describe symptoms, treatment and prevention of: Knocked-out tooth
Tenderfoot 12b: Show first aid for: Simple cuts and scratches and blisters on the hand and foot
Tenderfoot 12b: Show first aid for: Nosebleed
Second Class 6c: Show first aid for: Object in the eye
Second Class 6c: Show first aid for: Puncture wounds from a splinter, a nail and a fish hook
Second Class 6c: Show first aid for: Hyperventilation
Bruises, Strains and Sprains
Injury Definition Treatment
Bruise A bruise is a place where blood vessels have broken beneath the surface of the skin. Most bruises are shallow and only cause some soreness.

Bruises can also be a good indicator that a more serious injury has occurred. If a large or painful bruise appears near vital organs (e.g. over the ribcage after a fall or on the stomach after an impact), assume that internal injuries have occurred and seek immediate medical attention.

Most bruises require no treatment.

If swelling or pain is a problem, applying a cool compress for the first hour or so after injury will keep the swelling down. After that, applying low heat will help the bruise heal and clear. If the pain is acute or severe, seek medical attention.

Strain A strain occurs when a muscle is stretched beyond its limits and injury occurs. This is a fairly common sports injury. Mild strains may not cause pain immediately. Apply cold to help reduce the inflammation. Headache medication may be appropriate as well, since it also reduces inflammation. Rest the muscle and allow it to heal.

If intense pain continues despite treatment, medical attention may be required.

Sprain A sprain occurs when a ligament around a joint is stretched beyond its limits and injury occurs. If the injury is severe enough, the ligaments can be torn.

Sprains cause immediate pain and swelling. They can be difficult to distinguish from broken bones.

When the exact nature of the injury is unknown, treat it as a broken bone. Wrap, elevate and rest the joint, monitor the patient's condition and seek medical attention.

If the injury is known to be a sprain, remember the acronym I.C.E.
Ice: apply cold
Compression: wrap the injury in a compression bandage to help keep swelling down
Elevation: keep the injury elevated and rested
Oral Injuries
Injury Definition Treatment
Chipped tooth A chipped tooth occurs when a small part of the tooth enamel breaks away but the nerve is not exposed. No treatment is required. A dentist's attention may be required to smooth the broken edges and/or make cosmetic changes.
Broken tooth A broken tooth is much more serious than a chipped tooth. When a tooth is broken, the nerve is exposed and can cause a great deal of pain. Breaking a tooth can be extremely painful, which increases the stress of the situation. Unfortunately, very little first aid can be done. Apply a cold pack from outside the mouth (do not put ice directly on the tooth).
Loosened tooth A loose tooth occurs when a tooth's roots have torn free and the tooth can move in its socket. There is very little that can be done. The tooth will heal and firm up on its own. In the meantime, the patient should be very careful not to chew with the tooth.

If there is significant pain, seek dental assistance.

Knocked-out tooth When a tooth is knocked out completely without being broken (avulsed), it will still have the roots attached. If the tooth is undamaged, there is a good chance it can be re-inserted and heal normally. This should be done as soon as possible after the injury, before swelling has a chance to start.

The tooth should only be handled by the crown, not the root. Do not touch or brush off the roots. If the tooth is dirty, gently clean it with cool water.

To re-insert the tooth, use gentle pressure and slowly work the tooth back into its socket. Have the patient gently bite down on gauze to hold the tooth in place. The patient should seek a dentist to ensure that no serious injury has occurred.

If the tooth cannot be re-inserted on the scene, get the patient to a dentist within 30 minutes of the injury. Keep the tooth submerged in milk or cool water.

Cuts, Scratches and Blisters
Injury Definition Treatment
Scratches A scratch is a superficial tearing of the skin that causes little bleeding and stinging pain. The injury should be cleaned with water and soap or antiseptic (e.g. alcohol, betadine). If the cut continues to bleed, it should be bandaged until the bleeding stops. After that, the wound should be exposed to air and allowed to dry.
Cuts Cuts are very similar to scratches but can be deeper. Clean cuts (e.g. knife wounds) can be very deep with little bleeding. Cuts should be treated the same as scratches but extra attention should be paid to disinfecting the wound. Because cuts are deeper, infection is more common. Antibiotic ointments (e.g. Neosporin) can help keep the wound clean.
Eye and nose injuries
Injury Definition Treatment
Nosebleed Nosebleeds are caused by burst blood vessels inside the nose. This can happen due to impact (e.g. getting hit in the face) or due to dryness or weakening (e.g. allergies or illness and repeatedly blowing the nose).

Nosebleeds can be dramatic but they are not serious.

Treating a nosebleed is simple; the patient should pinch his nose closed and lean forward. Breath normally through the mouth and remain calm until the bleeding stops.
Object in the eye An object in the eye (e.g. a grain of sand) is irritating and painful. If it is not removed, it can cause serious damage to the cornea. The easiest way to remove a small irritation from the eye is to flush it with water. To do this, run lukewarm water over a cupped hand. Have the patient place his open eye in the water and look all around for at least a minute.

If running water is not available, small amounts of water can be poured over the open eye (toward the nose) or eyedrops can be used to flush the object out.

Whenever possible, a mirror should be provided to allow the patient to attempt to remove the object themselves.

Often, after the object has been removed, the eye will remain irritated and the patient may "feel" more objects in the eye. This sensation will pass as the irritation goes away.

Puncture Wounds
Injury Definition Treatment
Splinter A splinter is a small sliver of material (usually wood) that has become embedded in the skin. If possible, remove the splinter with a pair of tweezers. If this is not possible (e.g. the splinter is too small or embedded too deeply), a piece of paper or a knife edge can be used to tease up the end of the splinter until it can be removed with tweezers.

Sometimes a splinter will become embedded deeply enough to make this impossible. In this case, the point of a needle can be used to tease out the splinter. Be sure to sterilze the needle first by holding it in a candle flame for 10 seconds.

Nail When a nail punctures the skin, it most often occurs on the bottom of the foot when the nail is stepped on and penetrates the sole of the shoe. The nail is usually removed when the foot is lifted. The injury should be treated like a cut -- cleaned thoroughly, bandaged until the bleeding stops and allowed to dry.

With a nail injury, however, there is an additional concern. Tetnus can be spread through dirty injuries like this one. The patient should get his tetanus vaccination updated if he hasn't had a recent booster shot.

Fish hook Fish hooks are very sharp and generally make clean punctures. However, because of their barbs, removing them can be tricky. If the hook has penetrated the skin far enough that the barb has caught in the wound, it cannot be pulled out backwards without tearing the skin and making the injury much worse. Instead, it should be pushed through the skin until the barb emerges from the other side. Then, the barb and point can be cut off with a pair of wire cutters and the shaft of the hook can be pulled out.

Once this has been done, the injury should be treated like a cut; cleaned, bandaged and allowed to dry.

Injury Definition Treatment
Hyperventilation Hyperventilation occurs when a person panics and begins taking very rapid, very shallow breaths. Because the breaths are so shallow, very little oxygen enters the body and the person becomes lightheaded. If the hyperventilation continues long enough, the person can pass out.

Hyperventilation is not a serious condition. If the person passes out, his breathing will return to normal and they will quickly regain consciousness.

Treatment involves simply calming the person down. Have the patient sit and reassure them.

A technique often seen in movies is to have the person breathe into a paper bag. Since panic is in the mind, this is a good way to distract the patient and focus his attention on his breathing. Physically, it does nothing to help or hurt the situation.

©2005 Sam Clippinger / samc (at) troop50 (dot) org
Last updated: 12/9/2005