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You’re in the office, working on a big project. It’s a nice day outside. The sun is shining, birds are singing, and things are going well. Then suddenly…

There are any number of things that could happen to you, at work or at home, that come out of nowhere. Earthquakes, fires, landslides, tornadoes, storms, terrorism, and shootings- These things can take us by surprise and in mere moments leave a disaster in their wake. When that happens there are three medical emergencies you need to be prepared for called the Three Killers. In this four part series of articles we will walk you through what you need to know about each one.

Before learning about the killers, however, the first thing you need to be aware of is how to approach one of their victims. In a disaster people can be confused and disoriented. If you are uninjured and able to help victims safely you should, but you need to be careful not to cause them any more unnecessary stress.

First, if possible make sure that they can see you approach. You do not want to sneak up and surprise them. This could send them into shock, or cause them to lash out. In emergency situations many people enter a fight-or-flight mindset. If you are not careful when approaching them they may attempt to do either, running away into further danger or turning and attacking you. By making sure they see you approach you can mitigate this possibility.

Second, identify yourself, even if you know the person. Give your name and the name of your organization. Names are very powerful things, and sharing yours can immediately build trust. A face without a name is just a stranger, and for all the victim knows strangers may have been the cause of the disaster. By sharing who you are and who you work for you are reassuring them that they can trust you.

Finally, request permission to help them. Do not start touching them without their permission, as this can frighten anyone. They might think you are trying to rob or take advantage of them if you do not ask. Naturally, respect cultural differences. For many people such physical contact might not be appropriate, so be careful and respectful.

Often these questions will help ground them, shaking them out of a frozen or stuck mental state. If they do not respond after these attempts at communication you will need to approach them anyway. They may be unconscious or dead, and you will need to identify if they can be helped. In all things be respectful, because in this situation they may not have any power to help themselves and must rely on you.

In our next article in this series, and in honor of National Heart Month, we will detail what to do when facing the first killer: Bleeding. And if you want to learn more right now, buy our special BERT training program to understand the Three Killers today, along with medical triage, dealing with an active shooter, and so much more!


Legal Disclaimer: This is not intended as legal or practical advice in any situation. BERT’s Purpose and the purpose of this article is to provide ideas and potential resources for consideration.

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