Basic first aid procedures can help you get someone through a medical crisis, at least until the paramedics arrive or you can get them to a hospital. The best way to prepare for these events is to get official first aid training, such as that offered by the American Red Cross.
Until you’re able to do that, though, you can learn some basic first aid procedures. That way, you can respond the right way when someone needs you to.
First aid is the care a sick or injured person gets before they get full medical treatment. In some cases, it may be the only care someone needs, while in others, it may keep them safe until paramedics arrive or someone else gets them to the hospital.
First aid can include everything from bandaging a minor wound to preventing shock to keeping someone’s heart beating during a cardiac event. Ideally, it should be performed by someone who’s taken a class and is certified in first aid, but if no one is available, anyone with some basic knowledge can pitch in.
When someone is unconscious or unresponsive, a basic tenet of first aid is ABC:
Airway: If someone’s not breathing, clear their airway.
Breathing: If the airway is clear and they’re still not breathing, provide rescue breathing.
Circulation: Chest compressions to keep blood circulating should be performed along with rescue breathing. If the person is breathing but unresponsive, check their pulse to see if their heart has stopped and, if so, provide chest compressions.
An alternate and simpler version of the ABCs is:
Awake? If not, try to wake them. If they don’t wake up, make sure someone is calling 911 and move on to B.
Breathing? If not, start rescue breathing and chest compressions. If so, move on to C.
Continue care: Follow instructions from 911 or continue treatment until an ambulance arrives.
Some courses also include D and possibly E, as well:
D can stand for disability assessment, which is fairly complicated for someone without medical training. It also sometimes stands for deadly bleeding, which needs to be stopped, or defibrillator if someone’s heart has stopped and an automated external defibrillator (AED) device is available.E stands for examination—evaluating the person for signs of injury, bleeding, allergies, or other problems once you know they’re breathing and their heart is beating.
1，CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation)
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is the most important medical procedure of all. If a person is in cardiac arrest (the heart is no longer pumping blood) and CPR is not performed, that person will die. On the other hand, performing CPR or using an AED could save a life.
AEDs are available in many public areas and businesses. These devices are simplified for use even if you have never been trained. CPR training will include getting familiar with AED use, which can save valuable time if you need to use one.
Bleeding is usually fairly obvious, especially if it’s severe. While it is important to stop the bleeding, remember the ABCs and check first for something more serious.Regardless of severity, almost all bleeding can be controlled, so don’t think you can’t help someone who’s bleeding a lot. If severe bleeding is allowed to continue, it can lead to shock and, eventually, death.
It’s easy to overestimate the amount of blood loss you’re witnessing. To get an accurate assessment of what type of bleeding it is, look at its color and how it’s leaving the body.
Capillaries: Bleeding from capillaries, which are the smallest blood vessels, looks like a trickle and will usually stop on its own.
Veins: A consistent blood flow and blood that’s a dark red color is most likely coming from the veins. It can result in anywhere from mild to severe bleeding that can be rapid.
Arteries: Arteries are the largest blood vessels and are under pressure, so blood spurts from the wound. It’s also bright red, as it carries more oxygen. Blood can be lost most rapidly from an arterial bleed and it’s always considered an emergency.
Call 911 or get the person to a hospital any time you suspect arterial bleeding, blood is soaking through bandages, or the bleeding won’t stop.5 Make sure someone can keep treating the person during the drive or while you wait for an ambulance.
Whenever possible, wash your hands when treating a wound to help prevent infection. Wear latex or nitrile gloves if they’re available. This can protect you from infections in the injured person’s blood, including viral hepatitis or HIV/AIDS.
Get medical help when the wound:
Has widely separated sides
Oozes blood after pressure has been applied
Is from a bite (human or animal)
Is a puncture, burn, or electrical injury
Should You Use a Tourniquet?
Using a tourniquet is somewhat controversial except in dire emergencies in which a person’s life could be at stake. Some argue that tourniquets can do more harm than good, possibly leading to a limb amputation due to tissue damage.
A 2018 review of published research found that some arterial injury and limb damage were reported, but infrequently. However, the studies they examined had a lot of shortcomings and inconsistencies. The researchers called for standardized data collection of limb trauma and tourniquet use to help determine their safety and effectiveness.
The value of using elevation or pressure points (pressing on an artery to slow blood flow) is debated, with some experts and organizations saying to use them8 and others leaving these steps out of their first aid instruction.