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First Aid as defined by Emergency Care & Safety Institute as;

First Aid – is the immediate care given to an injured or suddenly ill person. First aid does not take the place of proper medical care. It consists only of providing temporary assistance until competent medical care, if needed, is obtained or until the chance of recovery without medical care is assured. (ECSI 2012)

Five Principles Of First Aid Treatment:

· The basic principle in rendering first aid to an injured or suddenly ill person is to stabilize his condition before the paramedics arrive and bring him to the nearest hospital for proper care.

· You don’t have to be a professional health care provider to perform basic first aid treatment to an injured person.

· One has to be mindful of laws regarding emergency care because in some countries only trained health care professionals are allowed to render first aid treatment.

· The responder must also be mindful of his own safety when rendering first aid treatment. If possible avoid direct contact of bodily fluids, check the surrounding before approaching the victim and get yourself and the victim out of harms way before rendering first aid treatment.

· In severe and life threatening cases call the paramedic immediately before providing first aid treatment.

Normal Vital Signs:

Vital signs are the signs of life it also serves as a baseline data for knowing if there are any abnormalities in the person’s condition.

  • Blood pressure: 90/60 mm/Hg to 120/80 mm/Hg
  • Breathing: 12 – 18 breaths per minute
  • Pulse: 60 – 100 beats per minute
  • Temperature: 36.5- 37.2 degrees Celsius

Providing First Aid Is A Process:

When providing first aid treatment do not just approach the victim and perform things randomly, there is a process or steps that you have to do in order to protect yourself as well as the victim.

Assess The Scene – When you are about to perform emergency care don’t just jump into the scene. First and foremost you have to assess the surroundings;

  • Is it safe?
  • Is it clear?
  • Are there any obstacles or sharp objects around?
  • Are there expose electrical wirings?
  • Is the location prone to foreseeable accident? (train station, road, street, stairs etc.)
  • How many people are involved?

These questions should always be in mind before approaching the victim.

Call For Help – Take note that first aid is just a temporary assistance it is not to be taken as a substitute for competent medical care. Whenever you encounter a medical emergency situation always call for a paramedic.

Assess The Victim – Assessment should be done with great care and begins at the head going down to the lower extremities (feet). When doing assessment one should take note of the following;

  • Deformities – These occur when bones are broken, causing an abnormal shape.
  • Open wound – These cause a break in the skin and often bleeding
  • Tenderness – sensitivity, discomfort or pain when touched.
  • Swelling – The body’s response to injury. Fluid accumulate, so the area looks larger than usual.

Assessing an unconscious victim – A person is considered unconscious when he is in a sleep like state. A person who is unconscious lacks the ability to respond to stimuli from the environment. A person may become unconscious due to oxygen deprivation, shock, central nervous system depressants such as alcohol and drugs, or injury.

When assessing an unconscious victim follow the Circulation – Airway – Breathing (CAB) steps.

Circulation – Check for the presence of pulse. Palpate the carotid artery located in the neck.

Airway – Using the jaw thrust or the head-tilt-chin lift maneuver to open the mouth check for any obstruction in the airway that prevents oxygen from getting to the lungs. Foreign body, tongue and saliva can cause obstruction of the airway.

Breathing – Is the introduction of oxygen to the victim. Oxygen is essential for the survival of the victim. 10mins without oxygen can cause irreversible damage to the brain.

What to do if;

Victim is breathing but pulse is absent – Initiate chest compression with a ratio of 100 compressions per minute. After performing 100 compressions check for the presence of pulse, if pulse is not detected continue chest compressions until pulse is present.

Victim has a pulse but not breathing – If the victim has a pulse do not perform chest compressions just perform rescue breaths. To perform rescue breaths tilt the victim’s head back and lift the chin to open the airway. With the airway open, pinch the victim’s nose and make a tight seal over the victim’s mouth with your mouth or breathing device. Give one breath lasting 1 second, take a normal breath for yourself, and then give the victim another breath lasting 1 second until breathing is restored.

Victim has no pulse and not breathing – Perform cardio – pulmonary – resuscitation (CPR) 100 chest compressions per minute plus 2 rescue breaths after each cycle of chest compressions. Do not stop CPR until rescuer/paramedic arrives or until pulse and breathing is restored.

If there is an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) available use it by following the instruction located in the AED kit.

Common Minor Medical Emergencies And Their Corresponding First AID Treatment

1. Bleeding – Bleeding is commonly caused by open wounds. The primary concern in first aid treatment of bleeding is to prevent unnecessary blood lost.

Types of Bleeding

Capillary bleeding – Oozes slowly from a wound. It is the most common type of bleeding and easiest to control.

Venous bleeding – Flows steadily. Because it is under less pressure, it does not spurt and is easier to control than arterial bleeding. However, large amount of blood can be lost.

Arterial bleed – Spurts with each heartbeat. The pressure that causes the blood to spurt also makes this type of bleeding difficult to control. This is the most serious type of bleeding because a large amount of blood can be lost in a very short time.

How To Care For:

Capillary Bleeding

  • Wash the wound with running water and soap to prevent infection from occurring
  • Capillary bleed usually stops in 7-15 seconds
  • May or may not apply antibiotic gel depending on the extent of the wound

Venous bleeding

  • Wash with running water to remove dirt or any other foreign body
  • Using a gauze sponge or any clean cloth apply direct pressure until bleeding stops.
  • If wound is located in upper extremities elevating it above the heart can help reduce the bleeding. If the bleeding is located in the lower extremities assist the victim in lying down and elevate the lower extremity
  • Call for a paramedic to bring the victim to the nearest hospital for proper treatment

Arterial Bleeding

  • Needs immediate care
  • With a gauze sponge or any clean cloth apply direct pressure.
  • If pressure bandages are available wrap it around the wound tightly and continuously apply direct pressure
  • Bring the victim immediately to the nearest hospital
  • Arterial bleed is a life threatening situation. If the arterial bleed is not controlled the victim can die in under an hour.

2. Anaphylactic Shock/ Severe Allergic Reaction

Anaphylactic shock – Occurs when a person is having an allergic reaction to food (nuts, shellfish, eggs etc.), Medication, Insect bite (bee sting, wasp, Yellow Jacket, Fire ant etc.) and plants (poison ivy, pollens etc.). If left untreated anaphylactic shock can have a deadly consequence.

Signs of Anaphylactic Shock

· Breathing difficulty – Shortness of breath, labored breathing, wheezing.

· Skin Reaction – itching or burning skin, especially over the face and upper part of the chest, with rashes or hives.

· Swelling – of the tongue, mouth or throat

· Sneezing and coughing

· Blueness around the lips and mouth

· Dizziness

· Nausea and vomiting

What to do in case of Anaphylactic Shock

· Call a paramedic

· Determine if the victim has medication for allergic reactions. If the victim has a prescribed epinephrine auto-injector assist the victim in using it. If the victim is unconscious you may have to inject it to him.

· Place the in a sitting position in order to help him breath.

· Bring the victim to the nearest hospital

3. Burns

Type of burns

· Thermal burn – caused by flames, contact with hot objects, flammable vapor that ignites and causes a flash or an explosion, steam, or hot liquid.

· Chemical burns – chemical agents can cause tissue damage and death if they come in contact with skin. Three types of chemicals, acid, alkaline, and organic compounds are responsible for most chemical burns.

· Electrical burn – caused by electricity

Depth of Burns

· First degree burn – Affect the skin’s outer layer characteristics includes redness, pain, mild swelling, tenderness. An example is sun burn.

· Second degree burn – Most painful type of burn it causes blisters, swelling, weeping of fluids.

· Third degree burn – Severe burns that penetrated all the skin layers including the underlying fat and muscle. The skin looks leathery, waxy and sometime charred.

What to do in cases of Burn

First degree burn

· Cool the burn with cool water until pain subsides.

· Apply aloe vera gel or skin moisturizer to keep the skin moist.

· Give an over the counter pain reliever

Second degree burn

· Remove clothing and jewelry

· Cool the burn with cool water until pain subsides

· Do not apply aloe vera gel or skin moisturizers

· Cover burn loosely with a dry, nonstick sterile or clean dressing

· Bring victim to the nearest hospital

Third Degree Burn

· Call a paramedic

· Do not attempt to remove clothing, removing it might add more damage to the skin or flesh

· Assess the victims vital signs, breathing and airway

· Bring the victim to the nearest hospital

Care for Chemical Burn

· Immediately flush the area with a large quantity of water for 20 minutes. If the chemical is a dry powder brush the powder from the skin before flushing with water.

· Remove all clothes and jewelry

· Cover affected area with a dry sterile or clean dressing

· Bring victim to the nearest hospital

4. Nosebleed / epistaxis

Nosebleed – is commonly caused by slight to severe injury of the nose.

What to do

· Place the victim in a seated position with the victim’s head slightly tilted forward.

· Have the victim pinch the soft parts of the nose between the thumb and two fingers with steady pressure for at least 5 to 10 minutes

· Instruct the victim not to blow his nose

· Do not tilt health upward it might cause aspiration pneumonia if the blood will enter the lungs.

· If the bleeding persist bring the victim to the nearest hospital

5. Fractures

Fracture – is a break of crack in the bone. There are two categories of fracture:

· Close fracture – No open wound exists around the fracture site

· Open fracture – An open wound exists and the broken bone may be protruding through the skin.

Signs of Bone fracture

· Pain

· Deformity

· Open wound may indicate an underlying fracture

· Tenderness pain found only at the injury site

· Swelling

What To Do:

· Immobilize the fractured site by the use of splints

· Keep the body aligned

· Control bleeding (for open fractures)

· Call for a paramedic

· Bring the victim to the closest hospital

6. Muscle Injury (Strain)

Signs of muscle injury:

· Pain

· Tenderness when area is touched

· Weakness and loss of function of injured area

· Stiffness and pain when the victim moves the muscle.

What To Do:

· Rest – Stop activity

· Ice – apply cold compress to the injured area for 20 minutes

· Compression – remove the ice pack and apply a compression bandage and leave it for 3 hours

· Elevate – area when applying ice and compression

7. Seizures

Seizures – results from an abnormal stimulation of the brain’s cells. A variety of causes can lead to seizures, including epilepsy, heatstroke, poisoning, electric shock, hypoglycemia, high fever, brain injury, tumor, stroke, alcohol or other drug withdrawal or abuse.

What To Do:

· Prevent injury by moving away any dangerous objects.

· Protect the head

· Loosen restrictive clothing

· Roll the victim onto his side to help keep the airway clear

· Call the paramedic or bring the victim to the nearest hospital.

There are the common medical emergencies that we encounter in our daily life. Learning the basics of first aid treatment is essential for our survival and the survival of people close to us like our family members and friends. You do not have to be a professional health care provider in order to render first aid to those who needs it. You basic knowledge on first aid can make a difference you can save lives by simply using your basic knowledge on first aid.