First aid is for everyone, everywhere. So goes the slogan on the Red Cross website, organisers of this year’s World First Aid Day. Emergencies really can strike at any time and very often it is the way you react in the immediate aftermath which determines the outcome.
In these emergencies, 90% of lives are saved by the quick thinking and appropriate action of first aiders on the scene. Knowing what to do and when to do it are essential first aid skills that really do save lives. So, if you want to be a hero, take the opportunity to learn more about first aid on 13 September, World First Aid Day.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies first set up World First Aid Day back in 2000. Every year since the Red Cross and Crescent societies across the world have aimed to promote first aid and raise public awareness in September. They believe that first aid is an essential skill that should be accessible to all, including some of the most vulnerable people in our society. First aid should be an integral part of our learning and development.
Each year millions of people are hurt or killed because of a lack of adequate response or action in the immediate aftermath of an accident. Simple techniques carried out in the few seconds or minutes after injury can very often save lives and reduce the impact of disasters.
This is as true in war zones and areas of high risk as it is in your kitchen or back yard. No one really knows when an accident is going to happen but having a basic idea of how to treat someone should the worst happens can make a big difference.
Basic principles of first aid
First aiders need to remain calm and have confidence in what they are doing. They need to remember the three P’s of first aid: preserve a life, prevent injuries and promote recovery.
First of all you need to control bleeding by applying pressure to any wounds. You need to make sure the person is breathing and that airways are open (using the recovery position can help but only once you are sure there is no risk moving the patient). In situations where people are not breathing or when there is no pulse you need to perform CPR.
You then need to make sure the patient is comfortable and in no danger of further injury, attending to any other injuries or wounds. Very often shock is a major problem for those who have been involved in an injury. So, you need to reassure the person and try to relieve anxiety. Handle the casualty gently and make sure they are warm and dry. Then, if you are able, you need to get help by calling the emergency services.
At all times you need to be aware of your own safety and security. Do not attempt first aid if it involves putting yourself at risk, either physically or from infection and disease. If possible wear gloves and use any other available hygienic equipment, especially if attempting CPR.
If you want to know more about first aid and learn some key skills, then check out World First Aid Day on 13 September.