Increasing knowledge and advances in medicine constantly update first-aid techniques in the event of an emergency, but the emphasis remains on the prompt and proper care of the casualty by helping to alleviate pain and suffering. Whether first aid involves being able to deal with a suspected broken leg or stopping a nosebleed, it is vital to know the right steps to rake in order to prevent further complications and to reassure the casualty that they are in good hands.
Learning basic first-aid techniques is straightforward and is something that everyone should do. Knowing how to act in some emergency situations may well make the difference between life and death.
Animal Bites and Scratches
- All animals carry germs in their mouths and on their claws. When these penetrate the skin, the germs will be left in the muscle tissues and may cause infection if not cleaned thoroughly.
- Hold the wound under warm running water and wash the affected area with soap for at least 5 minutes to remove any saliva or dirt particles.
- Gently pat the area dry, and then wipe the wound with a mild antiseptic solution before covering it with a sticking plaster or sterile dressing.
- A serious wound should always he referred to hospital.
- Always treat any doubtful cases of injured bones as if they were broken in order to prevent additional internal injuries. Do not attempt to move the casualty until the injured part is secured and supported, unless he is in danger
- If the broken limb is an arm, it may then be reasonable to take the casualty to hospital by car, otherwise call for an ambulance immediately.
- Do not give the casualty anything to eat or drink, as surgery may be required if bones are badly broken.
Treating a Broken Leg
- Ensure that the casualty remains still, and support the leg and below the injury with your hands. Move the uninjured leg against it and place padding between the knees, ankles and hollows.
- Using a scarf, tie or cloth, tie the feet together in a figure-of-8 to secure them, and tie on the outer edge of the foot on the uninjured leg.
- Immobilize the joints by tying both knees and ankles together. Lie additional bandages and below the injured area.
- Should the bone protrude through the skin, cover the wound with a sterile dressing or clean pad, and apply pressure to control the bleeding. Use a bandage to secure the pad and immobilize the limb.
Treating a Broken Arm
- Sit the casualty in a chair and carefully place the injured arm across his chest in the position that is most comfortable. Ask him to support the arm or place a cushion underneath it to take the weight.
- Use a shawl or piece of sheeting (approximately 1sq in / 1yd in size) and fold it diagonally into a triangle. Slide this under the injured arm and strap the arm using a wide piece of fabric, then secure by tying the ends by the collarbone on the injured side.
Burns and Scalds
- Immediately douse the burned or scalded area in cold running water.
- Gently try to remove any jewellery or constricting clothing from near the burn before it starts to swell.
- Keep the affected part in cold water for at least 10 minutes, then place a clean dressing over the horn and gently bandage it.
- Any injury larger than 2.5cm / 1in will require treatment at the hospital.
- Never break blisters.
- Never use a sticking plaster.
- Never apply butter, lotions or ointment to the affected area.
- Remove any food or false teeth from the mouth, but never attempt to locate the obstruction by putting your fingers down the casualty’s throat, as this can push the obstruction further in.
- If the casualty becomes unconscious this may relieve muscle spasm, so check to see whether he has begun to breathe. If not, turn him on his side and give 4 blows between the shoulder blades. Should this fail, place one hand the other just below the rib cage and perform abdominal thrusts. If the casualty still does not start to breathe, call immediately for an ambulance and give the kiss of life.
- If a choking casualty becomes unconscious, kneel astride him and, placing one hand the other, perform abdominal thrusts.
Dealing with a Choking Person
- Bend the casualty forward so that the head is lower than the chest, and encourage him to cough. If this does not dislodge the object, sharply slap him up to 5 times between the shoulder blades using the flat of your hand.
- If this fails, stand behind him and grip your hands together just below the rib cage. Pull sharply inwards and upwards from your elbows to deliver up to 5 abdominal thrusts.11 times of this action will cause the diaphragm to compress the chest and should force out the obstruction. If the blockage still remains, repeat the process of 5 hack slaps followed by 5 abdominal thrusts.
- If a child is choking, place him across your knees with the heel down. Holding him securely, slap smartly between the shoulder blades (using less force than that required for an adult) to dislodge the object. If the child continues to choke, sit-in on your knees and, using just one clenched hand, perform gentle abdominal thrusts to avoid causing injury.
- If a baby or toddler is choking, lay him along your forearm with the head down, using your hand to support the head. Use your fingers to slap the baby smartly between the shoulder blades, but remember to use less force than you would for an older child.
- If the baby fails to start breathing, turn him over on to his hack so that the head is tilted down. Using only 2 fingers, apply up to 4 abdominal thrusts just the navel by pressing quickly forwards towards the area of the chest.