Friday, November 9, 2012

First Aid Guidelines

First Aid Guidelines

Almost all emergencies happen when we are in the company of our friends and family. Don’t let fear or intimidation prevent you from learning basic first aid. Even if you can’t take formal training, use these guidelines to help you know what to do in the event of an emergency.

This information was taken from the 2010 American Heart Association and American Red Cross Guidelines for First Aid, and simplified into easy to understand terms and intended to be used as a quick reference guide.

Administration of first aid must not delay activation of the emergency medical services (EMS) system or other medical assistance when required. AHA & ARC strongly believe that education in first aid should be universal: everyone can learn first aid and everyone should.

A first aid provider must be able to recognize when help is needed and how to get it. First aid providers should learn how and when to access the EMS system and how to contact the Poison Control Center.


Breathing Difficulties
·         Asthma attack – help victim take their prescribed medications and/or inhaler if needed.
o   If conditions does not improve, worsens, or if victim becomes unconscious call 911.

Allergies & Anaphylaxis
·         Allergies are relatively common, but only a small proportion of people with allergies develop anaphylactic reactions.
·         An anaphylactic reaction is a progressive series of signs and symptoms of swelling, breathing difficulty, an itching rash, and eventually shock, which, if left untreated, may lead to death.
·         Immediately administer Epi-pen if victim has one.
·         Seek medical attention immediately. Call 911 if no improvement or if worsening of condition.

·         Roll victim of their side if possible to help keep an open airway.
·         Prevent injury by removing hard & sharp objects away from victim and when possible placing pillows under the victim’s head.
·         Do NOT restrain the victim.
·         Do NOT attempt to put anything in their mouth or between the victim’s teeth.

Chest Discomfort
·         Call 911 for anyone with chest discomfort. Do not try to drive them to the hospital yourself.
·         While waiting for EMS to arrive, encourage the victim to chew 1 adult aspirin (not enteric coated) or 2 low-dose baby aspirin.


·         Apply firm pressure directly over the site using gauze or a clean cloth for as long as bleeding continues.
·         If it is not possible to apply continuous manual pressure while actively bleeding, apply gauze and wrap firmly with an elastic bandage.
·         In either case, if bleeding continues, do NOT remove the old gauze. Instead, add more gauze or cloth on top and apply more pressure.
·         Because of the potential adverse effects of tourniquets and difficulty in their proper application, use of a tourniquet to control bleeding of the extremities is indicated only if direct pressure is not effective or possible.

Cuts, Scrapes, and Abrasions
·         Wash with running water and soap as soon as possible. If running water is not available, use any source of clean water.
·         These types of wounds heal best and with less infection when they are covered with an antibiotic ointment and clean gauze or band-aid.

·         Immediately cool the burn by holding affected area under cool running water.
·         Continue cooling until pain is relieved. Cooling reduces pain, swelling, and how deep the burn will go.
·         Do not put ice directly on a burn.
·         After rinsing in cold water, apply cool aloe vera gel may be helpful.
·         After the burn blisters, leave the skin intact because this helps keep germs out, improves healing, and reduces pain.

Electric Injuries
·         Immediately turn off the power at its source, usually a fuse box. Do NOT touch the victim while the power is still on.
·         In case of high voltage electrocutions, immediately call 911.
·         ALL materials conduct electricity if the voltage is high enough, so do not try to touch the victim or electrical source until the power had been turned off.
·         Once power is off, assess the victim. They may need CPR and/or treatment for burns or shock.
·         All victims of electric shock require medical assessment because the extent of the injurt may not be apparent.

Spinal Injuries
·         Do not move a person if you suspect they could have a spinal injury. Also, tell them not to move.
·         The only time you should attempt to move a victim is if leaving them where they are is so dangerous that it could threaten their life. In this event, try your very best to stabilize their spine whenever possible.
·         Otherwise, only attempt to stabilize the spine if you have been trained to do so.
·         You should assume spinal injury in the following:
o   Motor vehicle accident
o   Severe ATV or bicycle crash
o   Fall from greater than standing height
o   Tingling in arms or legs
o   Pain or tenderness in the back
o   Sensory deficit or muscle weakness involving the torso or arms
o   Not fully alert or is intoxicated
o   Other painful injuries, especially of the head and neck
o   Children 2 years of age or older with evidence of head or neck trauma

Sprains and Strains
·         Apply a cold compress to the injured area. Cooling is best accomplished with a plastic bag filled with ice and water. Place a thin towel or other cloth between the bag and the skin.
·         It may helpful to apply a compression bandage to the area.
·         Rest the injured area at a comfortable elevated position.
·         Here is a helpful acronym – R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation).

Fractures (broken bones) 
·         Assume that any injury to an extremity (arms and legs) could be a fracture.
·         Cover open wounds with a clean dressing or cloth.
·         Do not try to straighten an injured extremity
·         Stabilize the arm or leg with a splint when possible.
·         If the injured extremity is blue or white, call 911 because this could be a medical emergency.

Human and Animal Bites
·         Immediately irrigate both human and animal bites with large amounts of water.
·         Snakebites –
o   Immediately call 911.
o   Do not apply suction. Suction removes such a small amount of venom that it is not helpful and may actually do more harm than good because it could aggravate the injury.
o   Instead, apply pressure by wrapping the bitten extremity to prevent the venom from moving further through the body. If possible, wrap the entire extremity.
o   Wrap tight enough to be snug, but allowing only one finger to be slipped under it.
·         Jellyfish Stings –
o   Immediately wash with vinegar for at least 30 seconds.
o   If vinegar is not available, a concentrated baking soda & water mixture can be used.
o   For the treatment of pain, after the nematocysts are removed or deactivated, the victim should be instructed to take a hot shower or immerse the affected part in hot water (temperature as hot as tolerated) as soon as possible, for at least 20 minutes or for as long as pain persists.

Dental Emergencies
·         Clean bleeding wound(s) with saline solution or tap water.
·         Stop bleeding by applying pressure with gauze or cotton.
·         Handle the tooth by the crown, not the root (do not handle the part that was beneath the gum).
·         Place the tooth in milk, or clean water if milk is not available.
·         Contact the patient’s dentist or take the tooth and victim to an emergency care center as quickly as possible.


Cold Emergencies
·         Hypothermia – caused by exposure to cold.
o   Begin rewarming a victim of hypothermia immediately by moving the victim to a warm environment, removing wet clothing, and wrapping all exposed body surfaces with anything at hand, such as blankets, clothing, and newspapers.
o    Seek medical attention immediately.
·         Frostbite – damage to the skin and underlying tissue caused by exposure to extreme cold.
o   Frostbite usually affects an exposed part of the body such as the extremities and nose.
o   Remove wet clothing and dry and cover the victim to prevent hypothermia.
o   Transport the victim to an advanced medical facility as rapidly as possible.
o   Do not try to rewarm the frostbite if there is any chance that it might refreeze, or if you are close to a medical facility.

Heat Emergencies
·         Heat cramps - are painful involuntary muscle spasms that most often affect the calves, arms, abdominal muscles, and back.
o   First aid includes rest, cooling off, and drinking an electrolyte-carbohydrate mixture, such as juice, milk, or a commercial electrolyte-carbohydrate drink.
o   Stretching, icing, and massaging the painful muscles may be helpful.
o   Exercise should not be resumed until all symptoms have resolved.
·         Heat exhaustion - is caused by a combination of exercise induced heat and fluid and electrolyte loss as sweat.
o   Signs and symptoms may start suddenly and include: nausea, dizziness, muscle cramps, feeling faint, headache, fatigue, and heavy sweating.
o   Heat exhaustion is a serious condition because it can rapidly advance to the next stage, heat stroke, which can be fatal.
o   Heat exhaustion must be vigorously treated by having the victim lie down in a cool place, taking off as many clothes as possible, cooling the victim with a cool water spray, and encouraging the victim to drink cool fluids, preferably containing carbohydrates and electrolytes.
·         Heat stroke - includes all the symptoms of heat exhaustion plus signs of central nervous system involvement, including dizziness, syncope, confusion, or seizures.
o   The most important action by a first aid provider for a victim of heat stroke is to begin immediate cooling, preferably by immersing the victim up to the chin in cold water.
o   It is also important to activate the EMS system.
o   Heat stroke requires emergency treatment with intravenous fluids.
o   Do not try to force the victim to drink liquids.

Ingested Poison -
·         Immediately call the Texas Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
·         If the victim shows signs of a life threatening condition (sleepiness, seizures, difficulty breathing, vomiting) call 911 immediately.

Eye Injuries
·         By chemicals – Rinse eyes exposed to toxic substances immediately with a copious amount of water. Seek medical attention immediately.
·         By foreign objects – Do not attempt to remove an object that is stuck in the eye. If an object such as a nail is lodged in the eye, cover the eye using a gauze or clean cloth with a slit cut into it to go around the protruding object. Call 911.

For more information on First Aid, go to or