A Quick Guide To First Aid
It’s never a bad idea to learn a few first aid techniques, whether you want to be a registered first aider at work or just because you’d like to be more confident in your ability to cope in an emergency.
For those keen to take on more responsibility at work, it may be a good idea to consider taking a CIEH first aid awareness course or similar, suitable for anyone working in a low-risk environment like an office or shop. Such a training course will provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to deal with first aid situations.
Doing some independent reading and research can also help you feel more confident when it comes to first aid, since such knowledge can save lives and knowing what to do in an emergency can make all the difference between life and death in certain circumstances.
The role of a first aider is to provide help to those who are either injured or ill, keeping them safe until they’re able to receive more advanced medical treatment from the likes of a doctor, another health professional or by going to hospital.
If you believe that someone needs help, the first point of action is to assess the situation as quickly and calmly as you can, making sure that no one is in any danger. You also need to think about what caused the accident or situation and judge how many casualties there are.
Before you can look after the person or people affected, you must make sure you protect yourself first, never putting yourself at risk. Only move someone to safety if leaving them would result in more harm being caused. If you’re unable to make an area safe, call for emergency help.
When treating wounds, make sure you take the necessary steps to prevent infections from being transmitted. So wash your hands or use alcohol gel to kill bacteria, wear disposable gloves if you can and never touch open wounds without gloves on. Do your best to never cough, breathe or sneeze over a wound or injured person.
It’s also important to remember to stay as calm as you can, since the last thing you want to do is make the person you’re taking care of worry, stress or panic any more than they’re already likely to be doing.
Introduce yourself to them so you can gain their trust and make sure you explain as fully as you can what’s happening and why, remembering to say exactly what you’re going to do before you do it so they know what to expect.
Should you be in a situation where there is more than one casualty, always help those in the most severe state first, dealing with any life-threatening conditions first. You can then move onto less serious cases, if applicable.
The primary survey
This is an efficient way for you to work out if someone has any conditions or injuries that could be life-threatening. Use the letters DR. ABC to help you remember the necessary steps – Danger, Response, Airway, Breathing and Circulation.
You need to go through the primary survey each and every time you help someone in need, making sure you’re not distracted by whatever else may be going on at the time. Once you’ve finished the primary survey and successfully dealt with any life-threatening conditions you’re faced with, you can then move onto the secondary survey.
Before you go to see if someone needs help, check that it’s safe. Always make the scene safe before getting closer if there issues such as traffic or broken glass, for example.
If you get a verbal response to questions such as “are you alright”, great. If not, gently shake them by the shoulders or pinch their earlobe. If it’s a child, tap their shoulder and if it’s a baby, tap their foot. If you still get no answer, it’s safe to assume that they’re unresponsive, so you can move to the next stage.
Check that their airway is open and clear. If they’re unresponsive, tilt the head and lift the chin to open the airway and only move onto the next stage once this has been achieved.
Take care to look, listen and feel to see if someone’s breathing normally. If not, check whether they’re responsive or unresponsive. If unresponsive and not breathing, call 999 for an ambulance and begin chest compressions and CPR. If they’re responsive, treat for whatever is stopping them from breathing.
Can you see any signs of severe bleeding? If yes, control with gloved hands, some dressing or clothing, then call for an ambulance and treat them to reduce the chances of shock. If they’re not bleeding and you’re certain you’ve managed any life-threatening issues, move onto the secondary survey.
The secondary survey
This should only be started once the primary survey has been achieved. Ask the person about what’s happened, checking for other injuries or illnesses.
Find out what resulted in them injuring themselves or feeling ill, asking others for information as well. Ask them to tell you what symptoms they have and check them over completely to see what signs you can find on their body.
You also need to find out their medical history, including allergies, medication, any pre-existing conditions, when they last ate something and a history of events that led up to them being injured or unwell.
A head to toe examination must also be carried out, checking breathing and pulse, bleeding, head and neck, ears, eyes and nose, mouth, skin, the neck and so on. You can find out more about the secondary survey on the St John Ambulance website.