This question is normally asked to every trainee at the start of any first aid course that we run. We receive a variety of answers, most refer to popular television programmes and many just say “it’s the first person on scene!”
Whilst that answer is not incorrect, it is fair to say there is a little more to it than that. For instance, have you received any formal training, do you know what to expect? Many people in this situation may be overwhelmed or unable to cope effectively with what they are confronted with.
Above all it should be remembered that safety is the first consideration, if you intend to treat / save others then ensure that the scene you are about to enter is safe for you to do so!
Below is just a little insight into what first aid starts with.
It entails using the letters D.R.A.B.C a little pneumonic that is used throughout the first aid industry we have broken this down to show what they mean below.
D = DANGER
What will a safety check entail?
You may have to consider the area the casualty is in, is it safe to approach? Is the floor stable? Are there traffic considerations? Could there possibly be dangers that are not immediately apparent? (Gas or electricity problems).
A logical approach may include the following:
Check for and if possible, eliminate any dangers (to you, the casualty and any bystanders, in that order!) is the casualty awake? If it involves traffic you could use bystanders to control the traffic
What comes after Danger?
R = RESPONSE
If not, can we elicit a response from them? You may have to shake and shout to the casualty to rouse them. Alternatively, you could try shaking or tapping the shoulders for a response, or even pinching an ear lobe!
If the casualty appears to be unresponsive it is necessary to check and protect the airway!
This can be achieved easily by placing the palm of one hand on the casualty’s forehead and two fingers of the other hand on their chin, often referred to as the head tilt chin lift. This should open and clear the airway for the casualty to enable them to breathe effectively.
B = BREATHING
Lay people (those who are not healthcare professionals) are taught to check for normal breathing this means they ae making no noises such as snoring or gurgling , this can be done by lowering your ear over the casualty’s mouth, looking along the line of the torso, and thereby looking, listening and feeling for breath on your cheek. This is a quick check and should take no longer than 10 seconds, we are looking and hoping for normal breathing (normally 2 measured breaths in that time frame), anything that is not normal we must consider to be abnormal or absent breathing!
In the case of normal breathing, then we must quickly check the casualty over from their head to their toes, to check for any injuries that may require treatment, if all is well then we need to place the casualty on their side into the recovery position, to allow the tongue to fall forward and prevent them from choking.
In the event that the casualty is not breathing normally meaning they may be making noises like gurgling or wheezing for example, we must call an emergency number either 999 or 112 and get professional medical help as soon as possible. It is at this point that if you are first aid trained you will have to perform CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) to maintain the viability of the casualty until the EMS (Emergency Medical Services) arrive with the correct training and equipment to deal with the situation.
A quick word of caution, if the casualty is awake and responsive it is pertinent to ask for consent before giving treatment, if the casualty is unconscious then there will be implied consent in order to save life.
Even if you do not know what to do for a casualty the main thing is to ring 999/112 the emergency service person who you get through to at the ambulance service is trained & will tell you what to do including putting someone into recovery if necessary just keep as calm as possible answer their questions calmly if you don’t know an answer tell them you don’t know their questions are important & it does not delay the ambulance they need this information so that they can relay to the paramedics so they a rough idea of what has happened.
If this blog has piqued your interest then you may wish to attend one of our first aid courses we have a 1 day course running on the 13th January 20 20 priced at an offer price of £50 for the January course only or you might like to do a 3 day First Aid at Work course we have one of these running on the 15- 17 January very reasonably priced at £150 per person look on our OPEN COURSES page of our website for other dates and you can also book from that page too