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First Aid & Emergencies

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Chest Injury Treatment

Call 911

  • Emergency medical assistance is critical for any serious wound to the chest.
  • Even if there are no external wounds, there may be internal damage.

1. Begin CPR, if Necessary

If the person’s breathing has stopped or seems dangerously weak:

2. Cover an Open Wound

  • Use a cloth, pad, piece of clothing, plastic, aluminum, or whatever is at hand.
  • If possible, cover two inches beyond the edge of the wound.
  • If blood bubbles up from the wound or you hear air passing through the chest cavity, tape cover down on three sides to prevent air from building up in the chest.
  • Do not remove any objects that have penetrated the chest.

3. Stop Bleeding, if Necessary

  • Apply pressure over dressing to control bleeding.
  • If blood soaks through the dressing, apply additional dressing on top of old one.

4. Position Person to Make Breathing Easier

  • If possible, place the person on the injured side or sitting up.

5. Monitor Breathing

  • If breathing becomes weak, apply CPR as instructed above.

6. Follow Up

  • The medical team will assess the injury and stabilize the person.
  • A blood transfusion may be necessary if there is significant blood loss.
  • Surgery is likely for a serious chest injury.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on September 12, 2015

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