Children are quick. Quick at being in the way, quick to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but sometimes not quick enough to move their fingers out of the way of the fast-closing car doors, sliding doors or other objects that can trap their little fingers. Children up to the age of six are most likely to injure their fingers at home, while children 6-14 years of age will more commonly injure them playing sport.
Preventing such occurrences is often difficult, no matter how much you supervise or educate. It is necessary for parents to know how to act in situations that are often chaotic and frightening. This brings a clear, calming influence to circumstances that involve heightened emotions, lots of tears and even more noise. A well-stocked first-aid kit is the beginning for all parents and carers.
Crush injuries and even amputations scare the bravest of parents. The biggest myth is to leave the crushing force in place, in case removing it makes things worse. The Australian Resuscitation Council’s (ARC), first recommendation is to ‘remove all crushing forces as soon as possible’.
Using the logical DRSABCD approach to any illness or injury keeps yourself and child safe, no matter the problem. You may not need all components for minor injuries, but it keeps you in a calm, logical state of mind to help.
- By assessing danger you’re ensuring you remain around to help your child
- Response, airway and breathing are managed simultaneously when your child is crying, whilst circulation ensures you manage bleeding that may be occurring, especially if there’s a partial amputation
- Help is then sought when you know how good or bad the situation is
If the fingertip is amputated, follow these steps:
- Calm your child – they will be most comforted by you
- Stop the bleeding – applying as much pressure as your child can tolerate to the injured area will help the bleeding stop
- Save the amputated part correctly – wrap the separated part in a clean, damp (not wet) cloth and seal in a plastic bag before placing in ice water or on ice. Never place this part directly onto ice as it will damage it
- Seek urgent medical help
If your child is coping with pain, then driving straight to emergency is the next step. If the pain is not well controlled, you can’t safely transport your child to hospital or the bleeding cannot be stopped call an ambulance
The medical team at the hospital will take it from there. Being empowered with the correct knowledge and skills can not only save lives, but limbs and fingertips too.
- Australian Resuscitation Council, ANZCOR guideline 9.1.7, First Aid Management of a Crushed Victim, www.resus.org.au
- Paediatric Hand Trauma: Fractures and ligament injuries, Occupational Therapy Department, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne
- ALSCO first aid