Imagine this scenario. You are at your workstation and suddenly your co-worker, the one nearest you, starts wheezing and making irritating whistling sounds. This continues for a few minutes until you finally decide to check on him. You see that he's grasping his chest and looks like he has difficulty breathing. Then it occurs to you! Your co-worker is having an asthma attack! What are you going to do?
Asthma attacks in the workplace can be triggered by a lot of factors, including dust and chemicals from pungent air fresheners and perfumes. Here's what you need to do in case a co-worker's asthma is triggered by any of these:
1. Keep calm and collected. As in every medical emergency situation, you need to stay calm in order to help the patient. You will only stress yourself if you panic and you might not be able to do anything to help your co-worker. In addition, if the asthmatic sees you panicking, his or her stress levels increase, which can aggravate the asthma attack.
2. Get the patient in an upright sitting position. Most asthmatics double over or lean on something when they can't breathe. By helping them to move into an upright sitting position, you are making it easier for them to breathe.
3. Ask questions. Have you noticed how emergency medical personnel on television and movies ask patients questions before they make any moves? You should do the same thing. Ask the person for their asthma management card, which he ought to have with him. This will give you instructions on how to proceed with helping the patient.
4. Find the patient's inhaler. Ask the patient where the inhaler is, locate it, and give it to them. If the patient can't activate it by themself, do it for them. Hold the inhaler a few inches away from the patient's open mouth and spray it two times. Wait about two to five minutes for the drug to work. Remember that the drug has to reach the lungs first before it can take effect. If nothing happens, then deliver two more sprays. Again, wait for the drug to take effect. If the drug is effective, you will notice a significant improvement in the person's breathing. If you don't see any signs of improvement, and the patient is wheezing much worse, then its time to proceed to the next step.
5. Call an ambulance. While waiting for an ambulance, make sure to stay with the patient and keep him calm and conscious. Do this until the ambulance arrives and the emergency medical personnel take him away to the hospital.
With so many allergens and irritants present in an office environment, knowing how to recognize the signs of an asthma attack and how to give first aid medical help to someone having one is very valuable. You can help save a life by responding to such an emergency medical situation. Always keep in mind that the best thing you can do in such situations is to remain calm and level-headed.