First Aid: General
First Aid is the immediate care given by a person to another who has been injured or has been suddenly taken ill.
A. Urgent Care—in case of serious injury or sudden illness, while help is being summoned, give immediate attention to the following first aid priorities:
- Effect a prompt rescue. For example, remove an accident victim from water or from a fire.
- Ensure that the victim has a heartbeat and an open airway and give CPR and/or mouth-to-mouth or mouth-to-nose artificial respiration, if necessary.
- Control severe bleeding.
- Give first aid for poisoning or the ingestion of harmful chemicals.
B. Additional First Aid Directions—once emergency measures have been taken to ensure the victim’s safety, the following procedures should be carried out:
- Do not move a victim unless it is necessary for safety reasons. Keep the victim in the position best suited to his condition or injuries; do not let him get up or walk about.
- Protect the victim from unnecessary manipulation and disturbance.
- Avoid or overcome chilling by using blankets or covers, if available. If the victim is exposed to cold or dampness, place blankets or additional clothing over and under him.
- Determine the injuries or cause for sudden illness. After immediate problems are under control —
- Find out exactly what happened. Information may be obtained from the victim or from persons who were present and saw the accident, or saw the individual collapse in the case of sudden illness.
- Look for emergency medical identification such as a card or bracelet, which may provide a clue to the victim’s condition.
- If the victim is unconscious and has no sign of external injury, and If the above methods fail to provide identity, try to obtain proper identification either from papers carried in a billfold or purse, or from bystanders, so that relatives may be notified. It is advisable to have a witness when searching for identification.
- Examine the victim methodically but be guided by the kind of accident or sudden illness and needs of the situation. Have a reason for what you do.
- Loosen constricting clothing but do not pull on the victim’s belt in case spinal injuries are present.
- Open or remove clothing if necessary to expose a body part in order to make a more accurate check for injuries. Clothing may be cut away or ripped at the seams, but utmost caution must be used or added injury may result. Do expose the victim unduly without protective cover, and use discretion if clothing must be removed.
- Note the victim’s general appearance, including skin discoloration, and check all symptoms that may give a clue to the injury or sudden illness. In the case of a victim with dark skin, change in skin color may be difficult to note. It may then be necessary to depend upon change in the color of the mucous membrane, or inner surface of the lips, mouth, and eyelids.
- Check the victim’s pulse. If you cannot feel it at the wrist, check for a pulse of the carotid artery at the side of his neck.
- Check to see if the victim is awake, stuporous, or unconscious. Does he respond to questions?
- If the victim is unconscious, look for evidence of head injury. In a conscious person, look for paralysis of one side of the face or body. See if the victim shows evidence of a recent convulsion. He may have bitten his tongue, producing a laceration.
- Check the expression of the victim’s eyes and the size of his pupils.
- Examine the victim’s trunk and limbs for open and closed wounds or for signs of fractures.
- Check the front of the victim’s neck to determine whether he is a laryngectomee. Most laryngectomees carry a card or other identification stating that they cannot breathe through the nose or mouth. Do not block the stoma (air inlet) of a laryngectomee when carrying out other first aid, since blockage could cause death from asphyxiation.
- If poisoning is suspected, check for stains or burns about the victim’s mouth and a source of poisoning nearby, such as pills, medicine bottles, household chemicals, or pesticides.
- Carry out the indicated first aid:
- Apply emergency dressings, bandages, and splints, as indicated.
- Do not move the victim unless absolutely necessary.
- Plan action according to the nature of the injury or sudden illness, the needs of the situation, and the availability of human and material resources.
- Utilize proper first aid measures and specific techniques that, under the circumstances, appear to be reasonably necessary.
- Remain in charge until the victim can be turned over to qualified persons (for example, a physician, an ambulance crew, a rescue squad, or a police officer), or until the victim can take care of himself or can be placed in the care of the relatives.
- Do not attempt to make a diagnosis of any sort or to discuss a victim’s condition with bystanders or reporters.
- Above all, as a first aid worker, you should know the limits of your capabilities and must make every effort to avoid further injury to the victim in your attempt to provide the best possible emergency first aid care.