First Aid essentials: five ways to be the difference

Advice from St John Ambulance, the charity that today launched a major campaign to highlight the number of preventable deaths
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Up to 150,000 people a year could be given a chance to live if more people knew first aid, says the charity St John Ambulance, as it launches a hard-hitting campaign to encourage more people to learn this vital skill.

Thousands of people are dying each year in situations where first aid could have made the difference. This includes nearly 900 people who choke to death, 2,500 who asphyxiate from a blocked airway and 29,000 who die from heart attacks.

First aid could make a dramatic difference in these situations, either through direct intervention, in the case of choking, or by recognising life-threatening signs, such as a heart attack, and caring for someone until medical help arrives.



Following is basic advice from St John Ambulance:

1. If someone is choking:
Cough-Slap-Squeeze

COUGH IT OUT

  • Encourage them to cough. If this doesn't clear the obstruction, support their upper body with one hand and help them lean forward

SLAP IT OUT

  • Give up to five sharp back blows between their shoulder blades with the heel of your hand

SQUEEZE IT OUT

  • If the obstruction has not cleared, stand behind them and put both arms around the upper part of the abdomen
  • Clench your fist and place it between the navel and the bottom of their breastbone
  • Grasp your fist firmly with your other hand
  • Pull sharply inwards and upwards up to five times
  • If this doesn't clear the obstruction, repeat backslaps and abdominal thrusts up to three times
  • If it still hasn't cleared, call 999/112 for emergency help. Continue until help arrives.

2. If someone has severe bleeding:
Press-Raise-999

PRESS IT

  • Apply direct pressure over the wound with your hand using a clean dressing. If you don't have a dressing, ask them to apply pressure themselves
  • Maintain direct pressure on the wound to control bleeding

RAISE IT

  • Help them lie down
  • Raise and support the injured limb above the level of their heart to reduce blood loss
  • Raise legs to ease shock

999

  • Call 999/112 and monitor them while waiting for help to arrive.

3. If you suspect someone is having a heart attack:
Sit-999-Aspirin

SIT THEM DOWN

  • Make them as comfortable as possible - a half sitting position with their knees bent and head and shoulders supported is best

999

  • Call 999/112 for emergency help and tell ambulance control you suspect a heart attack

ASPIRIN

  • If available and not allergic, give them one dose of an aspirin tablet and tell them to chew it slowly
  • Monitor and reassure them while help arrives.

4. Dealing with someone unconscious
Open-Tilt-Check-Recovery

OPEN AIRWAY

  • If they are unconscious, check their airway is open and clear

TILT HEAD

  • Tilt the head and lift the chin to open the airway

CHECK FOR BREATHING

  • Look along the chest, and listen and feel for breaths
  • If they are not breathing, their heart will stop. CPR* must be started immediately (see below).

RECOVERY POSITION IF BREATHING

  • If they ARE breathing and spinal injury is not suspected, put them in the recovery position.


5. Dealing with someone unconscious and is NOT breathing - CPR
Open-Tilt-Check-999-Pump-Breathe-Continue

OPEN AIRWAY

  • If they are unconscious, check their airway is open and clear

TILT HEAD

  • Tilt the head and lift the chin to open the airway

CHECK FOR BREATHING

  • Look along the chest, and listen and feel for breaths
  • If they are not breathing, their heart will stop. CPR must be started immediately.

999

  • Call for help

PUMP

  • Place one hand on the centre of their chest. Place the heel of your other hand on top of the first and interlock your fingers, but keep your fingers off their ribs
  • Lean directly over their chest and press down vertically about 4-5 cm (1 ½ -2 inches). Release the pressure, but don't remove your hands
  • Give 30 compressions at a rate of 100 per minute

BREATHE

  • Tilt their head back with one hand and lift the chin with two fingers of your other hand to ensure the airway is open
  • Pinch their nose to close the nostrils. Take a breath and seal your lips over their mouth. Exhale firmly to fill the victim's lungs until their chest rises
  • Maintaining the head tilt and chin lift, take your mouth away from theirs. Look along the chest and watch it fall
  • Repeat to give two rescue breaths. Repeat 30 chest compressions followed by two rescue breaths

CONTINUE

  • Continue CPR until emergency help arrives, they start to breathe normally or you're too exhausted to continue.

NB. Advice refers to adult CPR.

CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation - chest compressions and rescue breaths

St John Ambulance is committed to ensuring everyone has the basic first aid knowledge that could save someone's life. To get your free pocket-sized guide, just text LIFE**** to 85010 or visit the St John Ambulance website for more information on the campaign www.sja.org.uk . You can also get advice on your iPhone with the St John Ambulance first aid app, available through iTunes.

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