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THERE’S been an accident and you’re first on the scene. It’s the scenario that most of us dread – but we can all learn the basics

By: Michele O’Connor

Published: Sun, June 1, 2014 in the

Knowing first aid basics such as putting someone in the recovery position could save their life [POSED BY MODELS/GETTY]The first few minutes of a medical emergency are always critical, but nearly two thirds of us admit we wouldn’t know what to do.First aid is something we should all know how to give – so familiarise yourself with these simple steps and you could make the difference between life and death.

Someone cuts their hand deeply

DO apply firm pressure with a clean cloth and raise their arm above their heart to reduce the bleeding. Continue to apply pressure until the bleeding is controlled and apply a dressing. If the cut is very deep and blood is flowing heavily, apply an extra dressing. Continue to apply pressure and get someone to drive you both to A&E.

DON’T remove the original dressing if blood seeps through. Just apply another dressing over the top.

On a meal out, a friend starts choking

DO Encourage them to cough, advises St John Ambulance training officer Clive James. If this doesn’t remove the obstruction and they can’t speak, breathe or are going blue, they’re being deprived of oxygen.

Bend them over and slap sharply between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand up to five times. If that doesn’t work, try abdominal thrusts.

Stand behind them and place your fist between their navel and the bottom of their ribcage. Grasp your fist with your other hand and forcefully press inward and upward.

Repeat up to five times. If the blockage persists, ask someone to call 000 while you alternate back slaps and abdominal thrusts until the ambulance arrives.

DON’T put your fingers in their mouth to try and remove the object – you may push it further down the throat. And don’t make the person drink to try and flush the object down. This will only add to the obstruction.

Someone scalds their hand with boiling water

DO cool the burn under cold running tap water for at least 10 minutes, advises Clive James. Carefully remove jewellery or clothing from the affected area, unless it is stuck to the skin.

After cooling, cover the burn with a clean, non-fluffy dressing (a clean tea towel or freezer bag will do). Any burn or scald bigger than a postage stamp needs medical attention.

DON’T attempt to break blisters or apply adhesive dressings. They may tear the damaged skin when removed.

Burns bigger than the size of a postage stamp need medical attention after being cooled down [POSED BY MODELS/GETTY]

You witness an epileptic seizure

DO remove all potential hazards from the immediate area and put something soft under the person’s head so they can’t hurt themselves. Call 000, stay calm and simply watch over and reassure them.

Once the seizure is over, put them in the recovery position until the ambulance arrives, advises British Red Cross first-aid expert Joe Mulligan.

Lay them on their side, with one leg higher than the other so they can’t roll back or forwards. Then tilt their chin up to keep their airway open.

DON’T try to restrain them or put anything in their mouth. It could block the airway or damage their teeth and, if the jaw spasms, you could get bitten.

A person collapses in the street

DO If they are unconscious, check their “ABC”, says Clive James. Airway – Ensuring there’s nothing in their mouth, lay them on their back, tilt their head backwards and lift their chin to open the airway.

Breathing – listen for breaths and look to see if their chest is moving. If it isn’t, get someone to call 000.

Circulation – If the person is not breathing, start CPR: with the heel of one hand and the other hand on top, press firmly on the breast bone (where the lower ribs meet in the
middle). Depress the chest by one third of its depth, then release.

Repeat 30 times at a rate of two compressions per second, then give two “rescue breaths”. Pinch their nose, take a big breath, cover their mouth with yours and breathe out. When their chest rises, remove your lips and repeat.

Continue with 30 compressions followed by two rescue breaths until they start breathing or help arrives. If they are conscious and have chest pain, sit them up with their back and knees supported in a comfortable position and reassure them until the ambulance arrives.

DON’T lie them down if you think they’re suffering from a heart attack – it makes it harder to breathe.

A toddler is found face-down in the pond

DO carry them out, still face-down, with their head slightly lower than their chest to allow water to drain from the airway – and ask someone to call 000.

“Check ABC and, if necessary, begin CPR. Start by giving five rescue breaths, then do rapid chest compressions with one hand in the centre of the chest,” says Clive James.

If the child is breathing, remove wet clothes, put them in the recovery position and cover them with a blanket.

DON’T assume they have recovered. Always call an ambulance, as they may suffer from “secondary drowning”, which occurs when the air passages swell up.

An elderly relative is slumped in their chair

DO think “FAST” (face, arms, speech and time). Ask them to smile and raise both arms, advises James. “If their face droops, if they can only raise one arm, or if their speech is slurred or hard to understand, call 000 immediately and explain to the operator that you suspect a stroke.

DON’T wait to see if things improve. Prompt action can prevent further damage to the brain.

All phone numbers have been changed to 000 for Australian purposes.

See North Canberra First Aid courses for a great basic first aid practical course. All hands on with some information in between. Canberra first aid now conducts courses on the northside of Canberra. Please contact us for all your CPR and first aid needs.

We come to private practices anywhere and anytime to help your staff be ready for  any emergency situation.

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