How to DO Basic First Aid
Basic first aid refers to the initial process of assessing and addressing the needs of someone who has been injured or is in physiological distress due to choking, a heart attack, allergic reactions, drugs or alcohol or other medical emergencies. Basic first aid allows you to quickly determine a person's physical condition and the correct course of treatment. You should always seek professional medical help as soon as you are able, but following correct first aid procedures can be the difference between life and death.
- If approaching the victim will endanger your life, seek professional help immediately; they have higher levels of training and know how to handle these situations.
- Airway – Does the person have an unobstructed airway?
- Breathing – Is the person breathing?
- Circulation – Does the person show a pulse at major pulse points (wrist, carotid artery, groin)?
- Keep head and neck aligned.
- Carefully roll them onto their back while holding his head.
- Open the airway by lifting the chin.
- If the victim is not breathing, see the section below.
- If the victim is breathing, but unconscious, roll them onto their side, keeping the head and neck aligned with the body. This will help drain the mouth and prevent the tongue or vomit from blocking the airway.
- How to Stop Bleeding – Control of bleeding is one of the most important things you can do to save a trauma victim. Use direct pressure on a wound before trying any other method of managing bleeding. Read the linked article for more detailed steps you can take.
- How to Treat Shock – Shock, a loss of blood flow to the body, frequently follows physical and occasionally psychological trauma. A person in shock will frequently have cool, clammy skin, be agitated or have an altered mental status, and have pale color to the skin around the face and lips. Untreated, shock can be fatal. Anyone who has suffered a severe injury or life-threatening situation is at risk for shock. Click on the linked article for information on how to treat shock.
- How to Help a Choking Victim – Choking can cause death or permanent brain damage within minutes. Read this article for ways to help a choking victim. The article addresses helping both children and adult choking victims.
- How to Treat a Burn – Treat first and second degree burns by immersing or flushing with cool water (no ice). Don't use creams, butter or other ointments, and do not pop blisters. Third degree burns should be covered with a damp cloth. Remove clothing and jewelry from the burn, but do not try to remove charred clothing that is stuck to burns.
- Treat a Concussion – If the victim has suffered a blow to the head, look for signs of concussion. Common symptoms are: loss of consciousness following the injury, disorientation or memory impairment, vertigo, nausea, and lethargy. Read the linked article for the best ways to treat a concussion.
- How to Treat a Spinal Injury Victim – If you suspect a spinal injury, it is especially critical that you not move the victim's head, neck or back UNLESS THEY ARE IN IMMEDIATE DANGER. You also need to take special care when performing rescue breathing or CPR. Read this article to learn what to do.
- How to Treat a Bullet Wound – Bullet wounds are serious and unpredictable. Read on for special considerations when treating someone who has suffered a gunshot wound.
If the victim is not breathing
Follow these steps to restore breathing in an unconscious victim. These steps assume you have already performed the chin lift described above (see image).
- Straddle the victim.
- Place a fist just above the belly button and below the breastbone.
- Thrust upward to expel air from the lungs.
- Sweep the mouth to remove any foreign objects.
- Try two slow breaths again.
- Repeat until you are successful in clearing the object from the windpipe.
- Give one breath every 5 seconds.
- Check that the chest rises every time.
- As much as this article can cover, you will only learn so much from reading steps on how to do this. As such, try to find training in first aid and/or CPR if at all possible - this gives you, the reader, the ability to learn hands-on exactly how to bind fractures and dislocations, bandage moderate to severe wounds, and even perform CPR, and you will find yourself better prepared for treating those in need after the training. In addition, these certifications also protect you in the event of legal action - while Good Samaritan laws will protect you in these cases, certifications simply bolster this.
- If possible, use latex gloves or other barriers to protect yourself from others' bodily fluids.
- If a person is impaled on an object, do not remove it unless it is obstructing an airway. Removing the object is likely to cause additional injuries and increase the severity of bleeding. Avoid moving the person. If you must move them, you may shorten and secure the object.
- Moving someone with spinal cord damage may increase the likelihood of paralysis or death.
- Do not touch someone who is being shocked by an electrical current. Turn off the power or use a piece of non-conductive material (e.g., wood, dry rope, dry clothing) to separate him from the power source before touching him.
- Before touching a victim or rendering any aide, get consent to treat! Check the laws in your area. Rendering aide without consent may lead to legal action. If someone has a "Do not resuscitate" order, respect it. If the person is unconscious and at risk of death or injury, without any known "Do not resuscitate" order, go ahead and treat by implied consent.
- Never try and reset a broken or dislocated bone. Remember, this is first aid - if you are doing this, you are preparing a patient for transport. Unless you are 110% sure of what you are doing, resetting a dislocation or broken bone runs a strong risk of making things worse.
- Never, ever put yourself in danger! As much as this seems to lack compassion, remember that being a hero, in this case, means nothing if you come back dead.
- If you aren't sure what to do, leave it to the professionals. If it's not a life-critical injury, doing the wrong thing can endanger the patient. See the note about training, up above in tips.