Section II. TREATING OPEN HEAD WOUNDS
POSITION A CASUALTY WITH AN OPEN HEAD WOUND
After treating the casualty for any immediate life-threatening conditions,
evaluate the casualty's condition and position him appropriately. The evaluation
includes checking the casualty's level of consciousness using the AVPU method (alert,
responds to verbal commands, responds to pain, unresponsive). The same rules are
used to position a casualty after his open head wound has been dressed.
a. If the casualty has a suspected spinal fracture or severe head injury, do not
move him unless it is necessary. Keep the casualty as immobile as possible while you
dress his wound.
b. If the casualty is having convulsions (involuntary muscle movements such
as uncontrolled jerking or shaking), gently support his head and neck to prevent the
casualty from accidentally injuring himself. Do not try to forcefully hold his arms and
legs. Trying to "pin down" jerking limbs will probably cause additional injury.
c. If the casualty is choking, nauseous, vomiting, or bleeding from his mouth,
position the casualty on his side (figure 5-1) in the recovery position. This position is
used since it promotes drainage and helps to maintain an open airway. Place the
casualty on the side opposite that of the wound (wound away from the ground). Also
place the casualty in this position if you must leave him.
Figure 5-1. Casualty with a minor open head wound positioned
on his side with the wound up.
TREAT AN OPEN HEAD WOUND
a. Expose the Wound. Remove the casualty's headgear to fully expose the
If you are in a chemical environment and the "all clear" signal has not
been given, do not remove the casualty's mask or hood and do not
dress the wound. If the mask or hood has been breached, repair the
breach with tape or wet cloth stuffing if possible.