What is First Aid and Why Is It Important?

When an emergency occurs, there is no time to search on the internet on how to properly respond. For your own safety and the safety of others, it is a good idea to learn about basic first aid skills.

First aid knowledge enables you to assist persons who obtain injury in the event of an accident. If you know exactly how to handle emergencies, you can take appropriate measures to prevent a situation from becoming worse. First aid treatment can prevent lifelong disabilities and you can save a life.

If an accident happens, being a helpless bystander can potentially worsen the situation. Your decision to step up and help others can offer them a chance of survival. Think of what a massive impact you can leave on someone else’s life.

While dealing with emergencies may be difficult, it becomes more manageable if you know what to do. Here is a brief introduction to First aid and the steps you can take to save lives.

Definition of First Aid

First Aid is the initial assistance given to a victim of injury or illness. First aid is comprised of relatively simple techniques that you can perform with basic equipment. It is usually carried out by a layperson or bystander until professional medical assistance arrives at the scene.

The three primary goals of first aid (3Ps) are to preserve life, prevent illness/injury, and promote recovery. It only takes six minutes for a human brain to expire due to lack of oxygen. Knowing how to perform first aid, including CPR, can prevent that from happening.

First aid training is the best way to learn life-saving techniques and procedures. Look for a trusted training organization near you and enroll in a first aid course.

Remember, it is better to know first aid and not need it, rather than to need first aid and not know it.

5 Steps for Emergency Situations

  1. Assess the scene

The first thing you should do is check the scene for any danger. Before you make an approach, make sure you are in a safe position to provide help. Check for potential risks such as burning fires, uncontrolled traffic, guns, knife, etc. Do not attempt to enter the scene if you are in danger. The last thing we need is for you to be added to the list of casualties.

Once the scene is safe for any hazards, check the casualties, and assess which one needs urgent treatment. Use the DRSABCD action plan when deciding who to treat first. The DRSABCD stands for Danger, Response, Send for help, Airway, Breathing, Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and Defibrillation.

If you are trained in first aid and feel you can help, take steps to lead and delegate tasks to bystanders.

  1. Call for Help (If Needed)

If you suspect anyone is ill, injured, and needs emergency medical care, call an ambulance.

Know the numbers of your local emergency services and give them a call. Tell a person nearby to call emergency services. If you are alone with the casualty, make the call yourself.

Take note of all relevant information, including:

  • How many casualties are in the area?
  • What is the exact location? Any landmark or city that can help emergency services to locate you faster.
  • Are there any vehicles involved?
  • Is the casualty breathing and responsive?

Focus on providing the paramedics as accurate information as possible to help figure out the right treatment for the victims.

For emergencies within Australia, dial Triple Zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.

  1. Provide first aid care

In an emergency, anyone trained in first aid can administer CPR, stop the bleeding, and perform other basic measures. These situations will demand quick things, cool nerves, and adequate first aid knowledge from you.

Here are other basic first aid procedures you should learn.

First Aid Kit 

A well-stocked first-aid kit should be accessible at all times. It should include bandages, clean water, an antiseptic, and other critical supplies.

For small cuts, burns, and first-level burns, you can use an adhesive bandage to cover the area. For larger (and deep) wounds, you might need to apply a clean gauze pad or roller bandage.

Here is how you do it.

  1. Hold the injured area still.
  2. Gently yet firmly wrap the bandage around the injured area.
  3. Fasten the bandage using tapes or safety pins.

Check the blood circulation of the bandaged limb through Capillary Refill Time (CRT). Pinch the nail until the color drains off and then let go. If the color does not return within seconds, the bandage may be too tight and needs adjusting.

First Aid for Burns

A second or third-degree burn is considered a medical emergency. Seek emergency medical care for any burns that:

  • covers a large skin area
  • are located on the face, groin, buttocks, hands, or feet
  • are from contact with emergency or electricity.

For minor burns, run the burned area on cool running water for straight 15 minutes. If no water is available, use a cold compress to reduce pain and swelling. Aloe vera gel and over-the-counter pain relievers help soothes and relieve the pain from burns.

Apply antibiotic ointment to prevent infection.

First Aid CPR

Determine if the person needs resuscitation before you start CPR. Check for breathing and responsiveness. If there are no signs of life and/or the person is having trouble breathing, begin CPR.

  1. Push on the chest

Put your interlocked hands on the center of the chest right below the line. Push hard and fast – about twice per second.

  1. Give rescue breathes.

CPR training will teach you how to perform CPR effectively. Push on the person’s chest 30 times and give two rescue breaths. Do it on the beat of the song Stayin’ Alive by Bee Gees for easy remembering.

  1. Repeat

Repeat cycles of 30 chest compressions and two breaths until help arrives or the casualty shows any signs of life.

First Aid for Bee Stings and Insect Bites

Most insect bites and stung from bees will improve within a few hours or days. You may need different first aid treatment and medical care depending on what insect that bitten/stung you.

To treat an insect bite or sting:

  • Remove the sting, tick or hairs attach to the skin.
  • Wash the affected area using soap and clean water.
  • Apply a cold compress or an ice pack to any swelling for at least 10 minutes.
  • Raise or elevate the affected area just above the heart. This procedure can help reduce swelling.
  • Avoid scratching the area or bursting any blisters because this will increase the risk of infection.

Consider applying calamine lotion to treat the itching or pain from the sting. Wash it several times a day to make sure no stinger is stuck under the skin.

First Aid for a Nosebleed

Most often, nosebleeds are just a nuisance and not a true medical problem. However, there are cases they can be both.

For nosebleed care:

  • Sit upright and lean forward

Sitting forward will help to reduce the blood pressure in the veins of your nose, stopping further bleeding. This also helps to avoid swallowing blood, which can irritate your stomach.

  • Pinch your nose

Using your thumb and index finger, firmly pinch the nose just below the bone up against the face. Apply pressure for the next 10-15 minutes. If the bleeding continues after that, do another cycle.

  • Check and repeat until the bleeding stops

If the bleeding stops, have a rest and relax for the next minutes until you regain energy.

If the nosebleed continues for 20 minutes or longer, seek professional medical help.

First Aid for Heatstroke

Heatstroke is a medical emergency. It occurs when your body fails to regulate its own temperature and continues to rise, often to 40°C (104°F) or higher.

Signs of rapidly progressing heatstroke include convulsion (seizures), confusion, fast heart rate, red and hot skin, sweating, and loss of consciousness.

Heatstroke can be life-threatening or may result in serious, long-term complications.

After calling 000, follow these first aid steps.

  • Remove the person out of direct sunlight. Immediately move them into a place where they can cool down their temperature.
  • Remove unnecessary clothing. Expose the skin surface to the air as much as possible.
  • Spray cold water or sponge their whole body. Use a fan to lower their temperature.
  • Apply an ice pack on the person’s back and both of his/her armpits.
  • If the person stops breathing, perform CPR.
  • Monitor the person. Watch for any signs of rapidly progressing heatstroke, such as seizure, loss of consciousness, and moderate to severe difficulty breathing.

First Aid for Heart Attack

A heart attack is a life-threatening emergency that requires quick action. It occurs when the supply of blood to part of the heart is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot. Prompt and effective first aid treatment lessens heart damage and saves lives.

Look for warning signs such as pain and discomfort to the chest and unexplained shortness of breath.

If you or someone is showing symptoms of a heart attack:

  1. Call an ambulance immediately.

Call 000 for emergency medical services. Getting medical care right away may keep the heart from stopping. It may help to reduce heart damage to a minimum.

  1. Move the person into a comfortable position.

The best position for someone suspected of a heart attack is on the floor. Put the knees in a bent position (you could place cushions behind or under their knees). Make sure to support their head and shoulders.

  1. Give medications.

Give the person one aspirin tablet (300mg) or two low-dose (baby) aspirin tablets. Ask them to chew it slowly. If uncertain of the heart attack, delay giving the medication until the emergency medical services arrive.

  1. Monitor the person’s level of response.

You must monitor their level of response as well as breathing and circulation until emergency help arrives. If the person becomes unresponsive at any point, prepare to start CPR.

Basic first aid knowledge is proven helpful in dealing with all types of emergencies. Being trained to provide first-aid is useful to oneself and the community. First aid save lives.