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Don’t wait for an emergency before you refer to these pages. Prepare yourself now by studying this information and, better still, attend a first aid course. The information given here is not meant to replace practical training that is given on a first-aid course. Contact Canberra First Aid training organisation for courses in your area. If you have taken a course previously, make sure your skills are up-to-date. Make sure that your childminder knows first aid. Again, don’t wait until it is too late.
Post emergency telephone numbers next to all phones in your home and office and save them on your cell phone. Important numbers to keep are of an emergency service, fire department, nearest hospital, the poison information centre and your GP. Know the shortest route to hospital.
Any family member with a serious medical condition, such as a heart condition, epilepsy, diabetes or a drug allergy, should wear a MedicAlert tag or carry a card. This will ensure that proper care can be given. MedicAlert identification can be obtained at your pharmacy or doctor. List any serious medical conditions family members may have and keep the list handy. Teach your children how to call emergency numbers, and tell them to show the list to emergency medical personnel.
Keep a well-stocked first aid kit at home and in your car.
There is a wide spectrum of conditions that can be considered emergencies. Many may turn out not to be as serious as initially suspected, but if in doubt, it is better to react promptly now, than have regrets later.
Dealing with accidents and injuries
- Stay calm, sum up the situation quickly and act fast.
- Before you act, adopt the SAFE approach. Shout for assistance, Approach with care, Free the victim from dangers, and Evaluate the victim. Protect yourself and the injured person from danger or further injury. Look out for hazards such as oncoming traffic and fire. If you cannot reach the person without putting yourself in great danger, leave him or her and call the emergency services immediately. Remember that you will not be able to help anyone if you become a victim yourself.
- Do not move the person unless there is imminent danger such as a fire. If the person must be moved, there should preferably be someone controlling the neck and head to keep them in alignment, and at least two other people on either side of the person to lift him without moving the spine.
- Get help. Call out for someone to phone for emergency assistance.
- Check for breathing.
- Prioritise problems. Remember that the most obvious injury is not necessarily the most serious. Deal with the most life-threatening problems (such as blocked airway and excessive bleeding) first.
- Check to see if the person is wearing a MedicAlert tag or other medical identification.
- Loosen tight clothing and cover the person to keep him or her warm.
- If there are no suspected back and neck injuries and breathing is normal, move the person into the recovery position.
- In the case of serious injury or shock, don’t give anything to eat or drink.
When to call an ambulance
Calling for an ambulance is generally the fastest way to reach a hospital. A private car may be an alternative option, but only if the hospital is very close by.
In case of poisoning, contact the poison control centre immediately as emergency steps need to be taken before leaving for the hospital.
Call an ambulance if:
- You don’t know what to do or are uncertain of the severity of the injury
- Someone is unconscious or struggling to breathe
- You suspect a back or neck injury
- Someone may be having a heart attack
- A person is seriously injured
- A small child is injured, unless you have another adult with you who can drive
- There is serious bleeding that you cannot stop
When you call an ambulance, state clearly:
- The site of the emergency (include names of cross streets, if possible)
- What happened to the victim and the victim’s condition
- The number of the people injured
- The age of the victim
- Your name and contact telephone number
- Any first aid currently being given
Do not hang up until the operator tells you to. This way you’ll be sure that you have given all the necessary information.
Check out our upcoming first aid course dates at http://www.canberrafirstaid.com/upcoming-courses/