Not a day goes by that there is not some potential for injury, illness, or sudden health emergency to occur in the places where we live, work, learn, and play. While many of these situations require no more than a Band-Aid, others are more serious and may even be life-threatening. Knowing what to do when an accident happens or when someone becomes suddenly ill can help ensure that minor injuries don’t develop into major medical conditions. More importantly, it can save a life.
Who Should Know First Aid?
First aid instruction is usually required for those in certain professions, such as nurses, teachers, and law enforcement officers. But anyone can and should learn first aid skills. Before taking a first aid course, it is a good idea to think about what personal qualities are useful when responding to a possible medical emergency. You need to be able to remain calm in an intense situation, and to assist the victim to remain calm. You must have good observational skills, both to assess what you need to do to assure your own safety during an emergency situation and to quickly assess the medical situation. It is also good to be methodical. You must be able to prioritize steps in each situation and then follow through until medical help arrives.
6 Steps for Emergency Situations
In emergency situations, remember DRSABC (Danger, Response, Shout for help, Air Way, Breathing and CPR)
1.Identify immediate risks to you and the patient (D is for Danger)
2.Quickly assess the extent of their injuries (R is for Response)
3.Call for expert medical support (S is for Send for Help)
4.Ensure the patient’s airway is not blocked (A is for Airway)
5.Check the patient is breathing (B is for Breathing)
6.Administer CPR if necessary (C is for CPR)
Common First Aid Situations:
If possible, cover wounds with clean bandages, and then apply direct pressure to the wound to control bleeding.
Symptoms of shock typically include pale, bluish skin that is cold to the touch, vomiting, and thirst. You cannot reverse shock with first aid, but you can prevent it from getting worse. Help maintain an open airway by keeping the victim on their back with their mouth slightly open, control obvious bleeding, and elevate the victim’s legs about 12 inches if possible. Prevent loss of body heat by covering the victim in blankets. Do not administer any food or liquids, as this increases risk for vomiting.
Loss of Consciousness and Breathing Issues
If the victim appears to be unconscious, tap or shake them and ask loudly “Are you okay?” If the victim is breathing but unconscious, gently roll them onto their side (if possible) while keeping the head and neck aligned. If the victim is not breathing, perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until help arrives.
If the victim is choking, perform the Heimlich Maneuver until the object is dislodged.
Call for help and give as much information as possible, including what type of poison was ingested and how much. The operator will give you instructions while you wait for emergency care to arrive.
Non Life-Threatening Injuries
In cases where injuries are minor, try to keep the victim calm and stable while you await medical care.
Administering basic first aid can help stabilize injuries and reduce pain in the meantime:
•Apply cold packs to bone or muscle injuries, but be careful not to move the victim to avoid further injury.
•Control minor bleeding by applying pressure to the wound.
•Pour cool, clean water over the burns and cover with dry, clean dressings or cloth. Do not try to remove peeling skin or apply any creams or salves to the burned area.
To avoid illness or injury when administering first aid care:
•Always assess the scene of an accident to ensure conditions are safe
•Wear protective equipment, such as latex gloves or breathing barriers when possible
•Avoid direct contact with blood or other bodily fluids
•Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after providing care
Article Sources:First Aid. (2012, November 13). National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health. Retrieved October 14, 2012, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/firstaid.html,Basic First Aid. (n.d.). Ready.gov –West Virginia. Retrieved November 14, 2012, from http://www.ready.wv.gov/during/Pages/BasicFirstAid.aspx, What to do in an Emergency. (n.d.). American College of Emergency Physicians. Retrieved November 13, 2012, from http://www.emergencycareforyou.org/YourHealth/AboutEmergencies/Default.aspx?id=26024