First Aid

Would you know how to assist a friend in need of medical attention? What happens in the first few minutes after an accident can make a big difference in the outcome. Knowledge of first aid principles can mean the difference between life and death. The four emergency action principles of first aid do not vary, regardless of the type of injury.

  • Survey the accident scene.
  • Send for someone from your emergency medical service.
  • Stay calm and gain the victim's confidence.
  • Assess the victim's condition.

If the victim is unresponsive, check the level of consciousness with the ABCs – airway, breathing and circulation.

See that the airway is clear. Look in the mouth for foreign objects and be sure the tongue doesn't block the airway. Press down on the forehead while tilting the chin up. This will pull the tongue forward. Check breathing with your ear pressed against the victim's chest. Watch the chest for movement, and listen for signs of breathing.

To monitor circulation, check the victim's pulse – a pulse indicates circulation. A victim may have a pulse regardless of whether he is breathing.

Control bleeding by applying pressure where needed. Relieve shock by elevating the victim's legs 8-12 inches from the ground. If you suspect a fracture, treat any "possible" fracture as a "definite" fracture. Immobilize with splints. Perform rescue breathing as needed, but protect yourself from body fluids, including saliva.

First aid falls into two categories, Emergency Treatment and General Injuries. Emergency Treatment is self-explanatory and usually involves some form of physical trauma. General Injuries are usually less severe in nature but could require hospital care. Cuts, burns, scratches and bruises are often overlooked, leading to more severe problems. All injuries have the potential to worsen without treatment.

First aid kits and equipment should be accessible and inspected at least monthly. First aid training is easily obtained from a number of sources including community college, the Red Cross, YMCA, and the American Heart Association. If you don't know where to get first aid training, consult your employer, physician or the local hospital.

A comprehensive first aid training course should cover the following topics:

  • Pressure points and how to control bleeding
  • Bandaging and splinting
  • How to recognize and treat heart attacks
  • What to do if a person chokes
  • Treating pregnancy and labor
  • CPR basics
  • How to avoid transmission of disease
  • Stocking a first aid kit

When property applied, basic first aid can help you stabilize an accident victim until EMS personnel arrive. As a first-aider, never try to go beyond your own knowledge and abilities, and never put yourself at risk. Just follow these simple rules and use your common sense to successfully care for someone who has been hurt.