American Heart Association First-aid Training Courses

As with most first aid events, acting quickly is an important part of the entire process and this training is a part of our Pacifica First-Aid Classes.  As the medical organizations with expertise in this area like Mayo Clinic and the National Capital Poison Center will advise, it is best to call 911 if you suspect someone has been poisoned.  The fact is poisonings occur to people of all ages–not just toddlers who think the colorful detergent cubes are pieces of candy.  An adult who mixes cleaning agents and can’t stop coughing is a victim of poisoning too.  Someone who ingests something out of the garden and becomes ill may similarly be treated as a poison victim.

Signs and Symptoms
This list isn’t exhaustive; however, some of the most common symptoms associated with a poisoning event often include vomiting, trouble breathing, confusion, and possibly seizures.  You may smell chemicals on the person’s breath or notice burns around their mouth.  In the case of an overdose, you might see pills scattered or an empty bottle.  Drowsiness is also common; a state of unconsciousness, of course, is definitely a medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention.

The Emergency Phone Call
If there are symptoms present it is best to err on the side of safety and dial 911.  However, if no symptoms are present, you might call the Poison Center (800-222-1222) immediately and describe why you suspect poisoning.  They will ask you for information such as the person’s age, weight, and any other information you might offer about the suspected poison.  On the other hand, when there are symptoms you should call 911.  Moments are critical and with many poisonings there is not a moment to be spared.

Waiting for Help to Arrive
During First-aid Training in Pacifica, CA or at some point in your first aid class you will be instructed about what you can do to help a poison victim while you await an ambulance.  You can check to see if the victim is still breathing; if not, you can initiate CPR.  You can also call the Poison Center number listed above.  Depending on your level of expertise, you may not have the information you need to provide the help the victim needs.  Call the poison hotline to their advice as you wait for emergency help to arrive.

Also, check the person’s mouth to see if any poison remains.  A child who has eaten a detergent cube, for instance, may still have some stored against their cheek.  Remove any leftover poison lingering in their mouth.  However, experts suggest that you do not dose the person with ipecac syrup to induce them to vomit.  Instead, try to make the person comfortable.  If you suspect carbon monoxide or some other airborne chemical, remove them (and yourself) from the room outdoors to fresh air while you wait for help.

Poisonings can lead to devastating medical consequences so it’s always best to call 911 to be safe.  When medical help arrives you should show them the bottle of pills or the poisoning agent to better help them assess the next steps to take.

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