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First Aid

First Aid Overview

Patient Comments

Some people try their best to assist someone in need of first aid, even if they don't have the knowledge. However, often a person fears they will make a mistake if they try to help a victim, thus paralyzing them into inaction.

The first step in first aid is wanting to help. Whether it is reading a pamphlet or taking a first aid course offered by the Red Cross, the, American Heart Association, YMCA, local school or hospital, there are places that teach first aid basics that will last a lifetime and possibly save a life.

While some people have access to almost immediate medical care, there is much that can be done to help ourselves, our families, and our neighbors by being able to intervene in the first few minutes of an injury or illness to make a difference in the lives of the people around us.

An example involves an individual who collapses in cardiac arrest or an obstructed airway. Medical technology in hospitals and doctors' offices can save lives. However, the care provided by bystanders using basic CPR guidelines often makes the difference in whether or not the person survives.

People who have friends and relatives with diabetes should be able to recognize signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), in which the individual becomes confused, lethargic or comatose. Treatment can be as easy as helping them drink some sugary fluid or giving them an injection that causes a rise in blood sugar.

Ideally everybody should have the ability to provide initial treatment for cuts, lacerations, burns, broken bones, sprains and strains, or a knocked-out tooth.

Basic First Aid

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is now easier than ever before. If a person is found unresponsive, not breathing, and without a pulse, there are just a few steps a person can help to assist the victim.

  • First, send somebody to call for help (dial 911 or activate an emergency response system and get an automated external defibrillator if available),
  • Next start pushing hard and fast on the chest (keep the beat with the Bee Gees' song Staying Alive). No need to perform mouth-to-mouth breathing. No need to count. Just continue to push hard and fast on the chest until an AED is found or other help arrives. This is a great video with actor Ken Jeong and the American Heart Association providing instructions on how to perform hands free CPR.

First aid involves more than cardiac emergencies. Other first aid emergencies include choking, burns, broken bones, and cuts that bleed. Most first aid techniques are common sense, and the mantra when faced with a medical crisis is "take your own pulse first." It is important to try to remain calm and think of what should be done to help the victim. If the person who is available to help cannot control their emotions, the victim may suffer.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/22/2014

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