There are multiple times when you need to measure and evaluate someone’s pulse, and sometimes it’s vital to know what is normal and what you should look for. There are three main places to measure someone’s pulse:
Carotid Pulse: The Carotid pulse is found by placing to fingers on either side of the windpipe on the neck. You should be able to find the Carotid artery easily as the pulse there is strong. Always use two or three fingers, never your thumb, because your thumb has a pulse of its own.
Radial Pulse: The Radial pulse is found in the wrist. You can find it by placing two fingers on the small indentation beside the tendon leading to the wrist. You will likely see your nurse take your pulse here.
Brachial Pulse: The Brachial pulse is used only in infants, where their pulse is too weak in the carotid and radial arteries. To measure the Brachial pulse, place to fingers on the inside of the infant’s upper arm.
How to Measure a Pulse:
Measure a pulse by counting each beat while watching your watch. Count the beats for one minute, the number of beats you counted is the pulse. You don’t have to start at the very beginning of a minute.
While checking a pulse, you want to check:
Rate: How many beats does the heart make per minute?
Strength: Is the pulse weak, strong, or normal?
Rhythm: Is the pulse bounding, thready, or regular?
All of this information is important in pointing out less obvious causes of illness or injury, and it’s an easy way to help out in an emergency while waiting for EMS to arrive.
The ABCs of life are the first thing to check when you come across any victim that needs first aid.
A stands for AIRWAY: Is their airway clear? If not, use a technique such as the jaw thrust or the head tilt/chin lift to clear the airway. Use the Heimlich Maneuver when appropriate (on choking victims).
B stands for BREATHING: Does their breathing sound labored? Does their chest move evenly when they take a breath (look for sign of flail chest, a sign of ribcage wounds)? Is there a sucking or wheezing noise when they breathe (possible signs of anaphylactic shock or a sucking chest wound)? Check their respiratory rates. Are they breathing abnormally fast or slow?
C stands for CIRCULATION: Are they bleeding anywhere? Is their circulation cut off by a crush injury, such as pressure from dented car doors or a fallen tree’s limb?
That has been the ABCs of life by Least Random Number!
The AVPU scale is a way to measure a victim’s consciousness. Knowing how to use the scale when you are taking care of someone can make it easier for dispatchers to inform the emergency responders on just what condition the victim is in–whether they have a head injury or are losing a lot of blood–and help them give the best treatment they can as soon as they arrive. Let’s break the AVPU scale down:
A stands for ALERT: Ask yourself these questions: Is the victim aware of his surroundings? Does he respond to questions? Does he know where he is and the approximate time?
V stands for VOICE: Ask yourself: Does the victim respond to questions and obey orders?
P stands for PAIN: Does the victim respond to painful stimuli, such as a pinch?
U stands for UNRESPONSIVE: If the victim does not respond to any of the above tests, he is unresponsive.
Alert is generally measured on a scale to four: Is the person aware of time, place, person, and event? If the victim isn’t aware of one or more of the above mentioned, report like so: “A x 3” , for example, if the victim answered three questions correctly but missed one.
The AVPU scale is used by emergency personnel and should not be used to measure long term impairments, as well neurological disorders.