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First Aid for Bartenders

This post is crucial: bartender are hurt regularly. In a busy operation, front of house with loads of distractions, with sharp objects and breakables it is not a job, in which you risk your life regularly, but definitely you carry home small to medium blemishes from time to time.

I am not a doctor or a nurse [well my mother was...] - however during my time in "combat" in diverse bar environments, I have learned, how to doctoring myself most efficiently. And this I would like to share with you today.

But it is not only the accidents but also indispositions, which prevent you to do your work. Check out the most common problems and my advise to you:



  • Cuts:
    • Cuts are the most common injury behind the bar. Sharp knives [blunt knives are even worse], broken glassware, sharp blades of blenders, even the plastic caps and seals of liquor bottles - virtually everything is waiting for your blood. Over the years I've got more carefully, so it doesn't really happen every week or so - but it still happens...
    • What you want to do:
      • Take a clean and new paper napkin [a sterilized compress is even better- but you might not have this immediately at hand].
      • Press as hard as possible on the wound. Yes I mean it; even if it hurts! Don't always release the the pressure, to check up the wound - it won't get better or worse in a minute or so.
      • Take your time - you have to put a lot of pressure of the wound for around 5 minutes! Trust me - everything else has to wait - if you are not taking your time now, it'll take much, much longer afterwards to get back operational!
      • After a couple of minutes, use a compress and medical tape out of the first aid kit. Put the compress directly and immediately on the wound and fix it very tight with the tape. 
      • Fix the tape as tight as possible. Tighter as what you think is good. If your limp becomes a bit numb it is [for the moment] ok. Check on it later and if it becomes blue, you might change it. But initially you want to get the tape really tight.
      • Wash the skin around your "package" - and make sure, that the tape [should be waterproof] is also hygienic.
      • Go back to work.
      • Check, when your duty allows you, to get off.
      • Unwrap the bandage the next day, use a new compress and wrap it again tight - maybe now a bit more comfortable as before.
      • Check and change bandage one or two times per day.
      • Repeat until wound is so stable, that it is save to use a plaster.
      • If there are any complications, go to your doctor.
    • What you should not do:
      • Don't wash the wound! Trust me, it will start the real problems! Don't put the wound under water!
      • Don't splatter everything with blood and press the area, that everybody sees, how bad your cut is.
      • Don't rush. If your wound is not properly "prepped" you end up even with minor cut injuries in the hospital. Your health as well as your overall operational readiness is more important, than the couple of minutes after your cut.
      • Don't put a plaster too early on the wound - your wound will continue to bleed and will get worse.
      • Don't always check on your wound - you are releasing pressure, if you do this - but pressure is inevitable.
      • If you are missing a part of your body - don't react as described above - now it is time to panic and get to the next hospital.
      • Anyway, don't be a drama queen!
    • The plan here is to stop the bleeding and to use the natural "glue" in the blood and the amazing properties of your body to close a wound almost instantly. I had really deep and severe cuts and reacted as above. It took me 5 - in very bad situations 15 minutes, to be able to get back to work. If you are doing it right, small wounds can't be recognized anymore after a couple of days - even serious cuts are history after a couple of weeks.  I had staff, which didn't wanted to listen [or I was off and the manager on duty just didn't reacted right] and their relatively insignificant wounds got them a sick leave for a couple of weeks and a lot of pain! You definitely want avoid this.
  • Stomach pain, diarrhea, vomitting
    • These symptoms are usually connected to food poisoning. As you are a food handler as bartender, don't take it too light. With severe cramps you won't be able to work efficiently. My advise: if these are rather mild symptoms, try to use activated coal tablets. Definitely inform your boss. If you got more serious symptoms, go to a doctor. 
    • Always wash your hands even more throughly and regards hygiene even more - you could be the source of contamination!
  • Hangovers
    • My early bosses put it very straight forward: Who can party, they can work!
    • What you want to do:
      • Berocca Boost can help you to get up and get back the minerals, vitamins and nutritions, your irresponsibility has caused [and the natural caffein, besides of the guarana is giving you an additional kick start]. 
      • Drink a lot of water [you should have consumed already while drinking minimum twice as much in water - you moron!]. Even the day after, your body is dehydrated and needs a lot of water, to get the ethanol poison out of your system!
      • Eat light and small dishes.
    • What you should not do:
      • Don't treat your hangover with even more alcohol. This might work very short termed but overall it is a very bad idea - unless you would like to get drunk again.
      • Try to avoid painkillers and other stuff. Drugs are stressing your body even more - and this is what you definitely not need. 
      • You don't want to do a sick-leave - other people might have seen you, while you were drunk - and you boss might not share your idea of reasons for a sick leave.
      • Don't drink fruit juices. Yes orange juice and alike have a lot of vitamins - however they contain also a lot of acid - you don't want to do this to your stomach!
    • There is not much to say - except, that smart people know, how to get drunk! Drink always more water than liquor, eat proper food before and while you are drinking - and focus of having a good time and not on getting drunk - you will be fine.
  • Stiff neck, pain in the limbs
    • One doesn't become younger. And if I look around and if I see the barkeeps, which are for the moment role models - bartender like Jeffrey or Jamie - they are all in their mid to late thirties [yeah - inclusive me]. The body starts already in this year to degenerate - and there is not much [other than getting your lazy ass up and do some workout] to be not illegible for some joint related pain. But even younger colleagues suffer of stiff necks and limb pain - due to the stress in a bar.
    • What you want to do:
      • If shit hits the fan, you should always have some Voltaren tablets around. They are coming in 50 mg and 100 mg - I always buy the 50 mg - as you can always take 2 - but the tablets are too small to half. Take one - in severe cases two with a lot of water. You should be fine in a couple of hours!
      • Use respective gels or creams - as additional help. Trust me, they are half as effective - but it just feels right.
      • Heat plasters are also helping. But usually they are irritate easily the skin - especially if you are sweating - so be aware.
      • Try to do some regular and moderate workout - swimming is also great - yeah - I know - it can be tough to get over your laziness [I am always planning but never workout'ing]
    • What you should not do:
      • Don't call in sick! C'mon you are a man [or woman], not a douche. You can take it.
      • Only take 100 mg of Voltaren a day - a lot will not help a lot!
      • Don't keep it untreated. It won't go away so soon and only get worse. A little bit medical attention will go a long way!
      • Just don't be a pussy!
    • I am absolutely flabbergasted about the effect of Voltaren tablets. Getting up with a bad stiff neck, will let you believe, that you won't be able to move at all - but only after a couple of hours and the small orange tablets you almost feel as a teenager [at least related to your pain].
  • Distortion of your limbs
    • Again, a lack of workout and the problematic age, we are in, is just increasing the hazard of distortions of your lets, arms, hands, fingers. But there is not a bartender secret to work it out much better...
    • What you want to do:
      • Buy some fixing bandage and try to keep it quite tight, that your limb is more stable only if there is not a lot of swelling.
      • Avoid to stress the respective body part.
    • What you should not do:
      • Don't call in sick for a minor distortion.
      • Don't be a pussy!
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
    • Bartender are often exposed to a higher sexually active audience - this can result into some problems:
    • What you want to do:
      • Be ashamed! You might not even be a serious bartender - so why are you reading my site?
      • Keep you dick [or pussy] where it belongs - professionalism [and the code of conduct of your employer] should keep you from sleeping with guests!
      • Use a condom - if to late go to a doctor and feel embarrassed.
      • Try to find a understanding partner and get real!
    • What you should not do:
      • Don't keep on doing this despicable behavior.
      • Don't tell anyone that you are a bartender. Tell anyone, that you are jobbing in a bar!
      • Just don't tell me.

To be honest, I ran out of usual conditions, which are mainly work related. Please do not hesitate to comment, and add some specific medical problems, so I will add them!

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