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When First Aid Kits Fail: The Basics Of First Aid In Emergencies

Jul 14, 2008
Anyone who ever spent time in the Boy Scouts remembers breaking out the first aid kits for the inevitable bouts of first aid training. Not quite as arbitrary as algebra, true, but any good Scout still remembers thinking more often that he'd like: "Why do we need to learn all of this? We have doctors, after all, and first aid kits!"

The answer: you need to know basic first aid techniques for when you don't have doctors or first aid kits. You need to know basic first aid techniques because when the worst happens and someone really depends on you, you're the last line between life and death.

The basic method you should follow in any first aid situation is simple: just know your ABCs.

A stands for Airway. Make sure that the person who requires first aid has a clear airway before you do anything else. A lack of oxygen is one of the quickest causes of death in human beings, and even a few seconds of restricted breathing can lead to serious brain damage. So when someone's injured near you, the first thing to do is to ensure their airway is clear. Much basic CPR training consists of techniques to clear a blocked airway, and any good restaurant will have an instructional poster on the wall instructing patrons on how to perform the Heimlich maneuver.

If you don't have CPR training or can't do the Heimlich maneuver, make your best effort to slap the injured person on the back and thrust carefully into the abdomen to force air up from the lungs, hopefully clearing the passage. Don't forget to hold back the person's head as well, in case they've swallowed their tongue. Opening the airway is ninety per cent of first aid in emergency situations--once you've done that, remember to check B and C as well (Breathing and Circulation.) If they're good, you're good, and you can begin treating any less immediately life-threatening injuries.

To treat a cut, apply pressure to the wound. If you're near water that you can trust, it's a good idea to keep the wound as clean as possible, but if not, settle for good, steady pressure. Applying pressure to a wound helps to slow and hopefully to stop the loss of blood. If you lack a first aid kit with bandages and iodine, this is the single most effective thing you can do to stop bleeding. In addition, it's a good idea to elevate the injured limb in order to prevent addition blood loss.

There are plenty of excellent first aid techniques, and it's difficult to scratch the surface of everything you need to know in the space of this one article. It's a good idea to take a course on the subject: plenty of community centers or gyms will be more than happy to teach you. And remember to always keep a well-stocked first aid kit on hand if you're going camping or hiking. After all, good first aid techniques can be the last line of defense against death--but preparation is the first.
About the Author
Details and specifications of all HSE first aid kits along with recommended options can be found at www.FireProtectionOnline.co.uk
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