5 Basic First Aid Skills Everybody Should Know
Emergency situations can arise anywhere, at any time, and without prior notice. In such a fast-paced world, tragedies are commonplace, and bystanders are often called into action following an incident. Click To Tweet
5 First Aid Skills You Should Know
First Aid Skill #1: How to Clean a WoundWhether it’s a small scrape, a burn, or a deep cut, the first step to recovery should be to clean the wound to prevent infection. An infected wound can lead to a long list of more serious health problems, so it’s important to sterilize the wound immediately. Before touching a wound, you must first clean your hands thoroughly using soap and water. If none is available, hand sanitizer would be an appropriate alternative. This makes sure that there is no harmful bacteria on your hands before treating an open wound. Next, find a clean cloth, gauze, paper towel, or other absorbent and apply gentle pressure onto the wound until the bleeding stops. If bleeding continues and oozes through the material, add another layer and seek medical attention immediately. Once the bleeding has slowed, you will want to rinse the wound with water. Some say hydrogen peroxide is the best solution to rinse a wound but using too much is actually harmful to the tissue. To be on the safe side, stick with water. Now that the wound has been rinsed, you will want to apply an antibiotic cream or ointment to help keep the skin moist and further reduce the risk of infection. These products can be found over the counter at any local drug store. Lastly, you will want to apply a bandage to the wound. Minor scrapes and cuts don’t require bandages, but many wounds do. Things like band-aids don’t only help reduce bleeding and contain blood, but they also act as a barrier that keeps out germs.
First Aid Skill #2: How to Stop Severe BleedingUnfortunately, dangerous accidents and incidents can occur at any moment. These moments could lead to heavy bleeding, or worse, a tragic death due to blood loss. A 2018 review estimates that each year, about 60,000 Americans die from hemorrhaging, or severe blood loss. Profuse bleeding is a result of the body’s inability to form a clot. Such a situation can result in the body eventually bleeding out. If witness to such a situation, bystanders are advised to apply pressure on the wound – ideally with a sterile clean cloth. In case of an emergency, T-shirts or other articles of clothing will also work. A secondary measure, like raising the wounded limb over the heart also helps slow down the heavy bleeding. It is crucial to recognize signs of arterial bleeding, as someone suffering from arterial blood loss can die within minutes. Arterial wounds pulsate as they bleed and the blood is usually bright red. In such a situation, applying constant pressure until medical professionals arrive is the only way to possibly save the victim’s life.
First Aid Skill #3: How to Apply CPR (Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation)Cardiac arrest is one of the most common causes of death in America. The heart stops pumping blood, and the victim is brain-dead after approximately four minutes. According to the American Heart Association, over 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside a hospital or healthcare facility each year, highlighting the need for widespread emergency first-aid knowledge and training. However, only 32% of public cardiac arrest victims receive CPR from bystanders. Bystander-applied-CPR can increase survival rates by 300%. Here’s how bystanders can apply CPR:
Chest CompressionsIf the cardiac arrest victim has ceased breathing, place the heel of your hand in the middle of the victim’s chest, and place the other hand on top – interlacing your fingers. Compress the chest (at least two inches in each compression) in consecutive compressions, up to 100 a minute. Important things to remember:
- Let the chest recoil completely after every compression
- Snaps and popping sounds are common at the beginning of compressions
Rescue BreathingAfter 30 compressions, the victim needs an open airway for breathing. Pinch the victim’s nose closed to prevent oxygen loss, and make a seal over the victim's mouth using your mouth. Follow by exhaling a big breath inside the victim (big enough to feel the victim's chest rising). The procedure is repeated after the victim's chests fall in place. In case the victim’s chest does not rise, reposition the victims head and try again.
Repeat the Two ProceduresFollow Rescue Breathing by another set of 30 compressions followed by two rescue breaths.
Check for BreathingConstantly check if the victim is breathing after chest compressions and rescue breaths. The American Heart Association doesn’t advise everyone to learn rescue breathing. All you have to do is put your hands over the victim’s heart and push, to the beat of “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees. You may stop administering CPR once victim’s breathing resumes.
First Aid Skill #4: How to Apply the Heimlich ManeuverThe Heimlich maneuver, though similar to CPR with its life saving qualities, serves a different purpose altogether. Designed to aid someone choking on a foreign object, this maneuver is an emergency option. The severity of choking can be determined by whether or not the victim is able to talk. In order to administer the Heimlich maneuver, wrap your arms around the victim, place a fist in between the ribcage and the person’s belly button, and deliver a quick upward thrust. Keep repeating the procedure until the foreign object is dislodged from the body altogether. A point worth noting is that this technique is only designed to apply on adults.
First Aid Skill #5: How to Treat ShockSevere blood loss may also lead to a drop in blood pressure. If the bleeding can’t be stopped, shock treatment should be considered in order to save a life. There are multiple checks you need to perform to administer shock treatment effectively:
- Lay the victim on the back, and raise their feet a foot higher than their head.
- Assure yourself the victim is breathing, if not you may need to administer CPR.
- Loosen any clothes and belts etc. that seem to make the victim uncomfortable.
- Ensure the victim’s airway is clear, and the victim is not bleeding or vomiting.
- Cover the person – ideally, with a blanket – and ensure that they are warm.