We never know when we’ll need to save someone’s life. I’ve just completed my tenth first aid course (or there abouts) and things keep changing and improving regarding casualty management. Having once served in emergency response teams, but now no longer, my skills don’t quite have to be honed as they used to be, but what a vital life skill first aid is. A Senior First Aid course should be a prerequisite for all parents and other authority-figures in life.
These are four priorities in first aid, beyond checking for DANGER:
Maintaining an airway and sustaining breathing is vital to life. If we stop breathing, soon enough our heart stops as we starve our bodies and brains of oxygen. Too many people still die in car accidents for the simple want of an open airway. This is achieved simply by tilting the head back, freeing the tongue from its resting position against the back of the throat.
Rescue breathing for the first aider is a vital skill, along with cardiac compressions. Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation is critical where the heart has stopped; we do it for as long as we can, or until help arrives.
The next thing to attend to after breathing is established is to ‘plug the leaks.’ Applying pressure with clean cloth and bandaging at the sites of the casualty’s bleeding is the first step. Amputated body parts need to be wrapped in clean cloth, put in a sealable (if possible) plastic bag and then placed in icy water to preserve and promote tissue health for later re-attachment.
Burns, like the previous two, can be life-threatening. Burns, of course, don’t just affect the skin, and they’re not simply caused by heat—the respiratory tract can be burned when inhaling hot gases and chemicals can cause deadly burns. And electricity also causes serious burns, burning the casualty on the inside. Burns are also caused by exposure to extreme cold.
Not many people have ever died from a broken bone; that’s why this incredibly painful condition is the fourth priority. But treating broken bones properly aids the casualty’s comfort and may even prevent shock.
Anything said on first aid would be devoid of worth if it didn’t contain reference to DRABCD. If you don’t know what DRABCD is about, then it’s time you booked yourself into a first aid course! Do it now whilst you’re thinking about it and commit to maintaining your skills.
Why should we realise we needed to know how to save a life until it’s too late?
DISCLAIMER: Reading this article is no substitute for not doing your own first aid course. And it should also be said that learning first aid is no guarantee of success—lives are not always saved—but it’s an important start.