Table of Contents
- 1 Why You Should Learn First Aid
- 2 Steps to Properly Assess the Situation
- 3 First Aid Basics – DRSABCD
- 4 How To Perform CPR On An Adult
- 5 How To Perform CPR On A Baby
- 6 Electric Shock
- 7 Recovery Position
- 8 Are Medical Skills Required?
First Aid is not only for life-saving purposes, it is also an invaluable tool for managing everyday injuries and illnesses that can occur in your home or any other environment. Interestingly, the numbers of injuries that take place in the home are staggering when compared to those that occur in other places.
Think of the times you may have tripped and fallen over the cat, burnt yourself cooking, struck your thumb with a hammer during home maintenance, or simply spent too much time out in the sun mowing your lawn. And if you have children, the numbers of at home injuries increase dramatically!
Knowing the basics of first aid is also essential if you plan on doing any outdoor excursions, particularly in the wilderness or out on the water. There, you can face a lot of hidden dangers that don’t exist in your urban neighbourhood, and it is much harder to dash to the emergency room or get paramedic help. In those types of situations, survival is down to you.
Being prepared for any scenario can increase your chances of survival. This is also true of natural disasters, as these can strike at any time without any warning. Tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, are all extreme forces of nature, and loss of life is a very real possibility, so if you know first aid, not only can you help yourself and your family, but also your neighbours, and the greater community. Your skills would be invaluable in these types of situations. But first, you need to know how to assess a situation.
Steps to Properly Assess the Situation
Step 1: Minimize Risk
The number one priority in any emergency situation is to first ensure that you as the rescuer are not in any danger. Look around the area and check that whatever caused the injury is no longer a threat. Do not put yourself at risk, or you too could become a victim, which then leaves nobody to assist.
Step 2: Primary Assessment
This is where you check the airway, breathing and circulation of the victim. Note whether or not the victim is breathing, and how they are breathing. You may need to explore the mouth with your fingers to see if there is an obstruction of the airway. Next, check the circulation by feeling for a pulse either on the neck, the inside of the wrist, or if necessary the groin.
The next part of the assessment is to check whether or not there is an injury to the spinal cord. If this type of injury is suspected, the person should not be moved, and the neck must be supported at all times.
Also note the temperature of the environment, particularly if it is very hot or very cold, as this could have a huge impact on the victim. If they can’t be moved, cover them with something to keep them warm, or create a shield from the heat using whatever is nearby and available.
Step 3: Secondary Assessment
Once you have ascertained the victim is breathing and has a pulse, the next step in the assessment process is to determine whether or not there are injuries. This could involve speaking to the victim if they are conscious and asking where they are feeling any pain. If the victim is unconscious, you will need to check for injuries by gently feeling and looking at the body from the head to the toes.
At this point you will also be checking for any discoloration, such as blueness or pale colour of the face which may indicate an internal issue such as shock.
First Aid Basics – DRSABCD
DRSABCD is a formula that is taught to anyone learning first aid. This acronym is important to remember, as it will help you follow the correct procedures when faced with an emergency medical situation. The acronym stands for:
D – Danger
Check that there is no further risk or danger to yourself first, then the others around you including the injured or sick person.
R – Response
Note whether or not the person is conscious or responds to your voice or touch.
S – Send for Help
If possible, call emergency services, or if necessary, send someone to get help.
A – Airway
Check the airway and make sure it is clear of any obstruction.
B – Breathing
Look to see if the chest is moving up and down as it would during breathing. Alternatively, listen to their breath sounds near the mouth or nose.
C – Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
If the victim is not breathing and is unconscious, begin CPR.
D – Defibrillate
If a defibrillation device is available, and the situation requires it, use it.
How To Perform CPR On An Adult
- Lay the victim on his or her back, keeping them as flat as is possible. Tilt back their head carefully. To do this you should place one palm on their forehead and use the other hand to guide the chin back.
- With the heel of your hand, locate the area on the breastbone that is between the nipples and 2 finger-widths above where the lower ribs meet.
- Put your other hand on top of the first and interlock your fingers, both hands facing palm downwards.
- Ensure your body is positioned over your hands and keep your arms fairly rigid. You will do the compressions with your upper body, not your arms and elbows.
- Now press down about 2 inches for an effective compression. Continue to do 30 compressions of the chest.
- Compressions need to be done to a fast rhythm – some suggest the Bee Gees song ‘Stayin’ Alive’ but if you don’t know the tune, you should be doing around 100 compressions per minute.
- Now you can do the rescue breathing. Once the airway is clear, you can use a breathing barrier if you have one available and place it over the mouth of the victim.
- Pinch the nostrils closed, place your mouth over theirs, and breathe in slowly for one second.
- If the chest rises and falls, even slightly, give a second breath. If it doesn’t, then check again for airway obstructions and make sure they are in the correct body position.
- Continue to repeat the compression and breathing cycle until the person recovers or you are relieved by a professional.
- Check for signs of life every 2 minutes.
How To Perform CPR On A Baby
- First check that the airway is open and not obstructed.
- Carefully tilt the baby’s head back.
- Pinch the nose closed, push the chin up and give 2 slow breaths, pausing in between.
- After giving 2 breaths place your middle and index fingers on the inside of the arm between the shoulder and the elbow to check for a pulse.
- If there is no pulse, begin chest compressions.
- Using 2 or 3 fingers together, place them on the baby’s chest just below the nipples and in the centre.
- Gently perform the compressions 30 times. Like with an adult, you need to perform 100 compressions in a minute.
- After each series of compressions, perform the rescue breaths and check for any signs of life. If there are none, continue repeating the process.
When a person is affected by an electrical current, including lightning, there are certain things you need to be aware of to ensure your own safety. Always wait and think before you rush over to a victim of electrical shock to prevent yourself from being electrocuted.
- Assess what the cause of the electric shock was.
- Check to see if the victim is still connected to the source of the electricity.
- Keep well away from any water as it is a conductor of electricity.
- Call for emergency assistance immediately if possible.
- If you can, shut off the source of the electrical current.
- Do not touch the victim if the electrical current is still running.
- If the source is cut off, then move the victim away using a non-conducting item such as a stick.
- If the source was lightning, you can touch the victim as the current has gone.
- If the victim is conscious, place in the recovery position.
- Assess using A, B, C, and perform CPR if necessary.
- Kneel next to the person and take the arm that is nearest to you and place it in a right angle position with their hand up towards their head.
- Put their other arm across the body and tuck the hand under their head, so it is touching the cheek.
- Take the knee that is furthest from you and bend it into a right angle.
- Carefully pull on this knee to roll the person onto their side.
- Tilt the head back, and lift the chin to keep the airway open.
- If necessary, and possible due to their injuries, you can roll them onto the other side after about 30 minutes.
Are Medical Skills Required?
You don’t need to be a doctor or a nurse or even a paramedic to perform basic first aid. Anyone can learn how to do many of the techniques; however there are many courses available if you wish to become more capable in the more difficult aspects of first aid.
The difference between a medical professional and someone doing first aid, apart from the level of training, is that with first aid you are not normally performing any type of invasive treatment, such as surgical procedures, inserting needles, and suturing open wounds. You are also limited as to what types of medicines you can carry.
Having some training in first aid certainly will make you more adept at taking care of injuries, illnesses, and life-threatening trauma and if you are someone who likes to spend time in remote areas such as in the wilderness and desert, then you should definitely ensure you have had some training. It is also useful to carry a first aid guide book with you, so you can refer to it if necessary.
First aid training is also a very important skill to have if you live in an area that is prone to particular natural disasters. For example, if you live near a place that suffers terrible flooding, or has earthquakes, you should learn what to do in those situations. Being prepared is key to survival in these situations, so having a survival kit or medical kit and knowing how to use it is invaluable.