For the second time in my career (lucky me!) a co-worker fainted within 10 feet of me. I'll be honest. I heard a thump, looked up, saw nothing - and assumed all was ok. Two minutes later a secretary noted, "Oh my God, _______'s down."
All kidding aside, I feel like crap for ignoring the thump. So, if you hear an inexplicable sound - investigate.
Aside from ignoring the poor guy as he lay motionless (it's our understanding that it was a case of extreme exhaustion from overworking), I realize that I hadn't a clue what to do. Sure, call 9-1-1. I left that to someone else. Then I bee lined for the HR office and let them know, figuring someone there would be equipped for this type of situation. Beyond that, I was pretty helpless. In hindsight, I don't remember a single employer telling me what to do to help a co-worker with a medical need. The only disease they've ever taught me about is sexual harassment.
So, let's go over some quickie Dos and Don'ts.
- If possible, catch them BEFORE the thump. Signs to look for are sweating, shaking, or looking like a ghost,
- Remember that game "7-Up" from elementary school? "Heads down, thumbs up." In this case you want the head of the fainter lower than the heart - and the legs raised up about a foot.
- You don't have to be Gene Simmons to gag on your own tongue ya know! Turn the person's head to the side so that the tongue doesn't fall back into the throat.
- Loosen any tight clothing. Today, the poor guy had his tie knotted up to his gills - and we all left it that way.
- Apply (room-temperature) moist towels to the person's face and neck.
- Cover the person in a medium weight blanket or jacket - especially if they are shivering or have bluish lips.
Now for the Don'ts:
- No slapping or shaking! Save that for when they get a clean bill of health.
- No eating or drinking until you are 100% certain the person is fully conscious. Even though dehydration/low sugar could be the culprit - you're likely best leaving this step to the pros.
There's plenty more. Get your First Aid for Fainting here.
I'm not recommending you become a doctor - but you definitely don't want anyone croaking on your watch. The above information is for informational purposes only. If you want the real hardcore scoop - consult your physician.
The good news is that the next person to faint at my feet has a fighting chance! But please fellow co-workers - if you must faint - save it for the weekend!
We'll have tons more on the Working Podcast when shows resume in January! For now, please subscribe to this blog for career advice that is BY workers FOR workers!