By : Emma Lawson
We all have been witnesses of someone in need of medical help in a public place, at work or at school, or when we were simply passing by. Most of us don’t know how to help and what to do except call the emergency. However, sometimes those first few minutes could mean the difference between life and death for that person. The best thing to do would be to take a course and learn the basics of first aid, but if we don’t have that, here is what we can do to help.
Check their breathing
Following the ABC – Airway, Breathing, CPR model is a good start. Check if the person is responding to your questions and touch. If the person is responding, their airway is clear and you can go on to assess how to help them with any injuries. If they are not breathing, open their mouth and check if it is clear. If it is, lift their chin gently and check for breathing. If their mouth is full, clear it and tilt their head back and check for breathing. You can do this by looking for up and down chest movements and by putting your ear near their mouth. If the person is breathing but unconscious, carefully turn them onto their side keeping their head, neck and spine in alignment.
CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation)
If the person is not breathing and is unconscious, you will have to perform CPR on them. Making sure they are flat on their back, place one hand in the centre of their chest and the other hand on top, press down 30 times firmly compressing about one third of their chest. You also need to give them two breaths, tilt their head back gently, pinch their nostrils closed and blow firmly into their mouth. Continue with 30 compressions plus two breaths at the speed of about five repeats in two minutes. The same is done for kids and babies.
If the person is not breathing and is unconscious and you are in a public place, this place will most likely have a device called a defibrillator (AED) which delivers an electrical shock to get the heart beating to regulate itself. You can provide first aid by just following the instructions on the machine carefully. If the person responds, turn them onto their side and maintain their airway. This may not be suitable for children.
If someone is having a seizure, you should prevent them from falling down if you can or guide them gently to the floor, loosen clothing around their neck and remove any sharp objects around them that might cause injury. Do not try to hold them down and don’t insert any objects into their mouth, but help them lay on their side to keep their airway clear. Wait till the seizure is over and help them with any injuries and stay with them until they are fully familiar with their surroundings.
It is important to recognize the symptoms and get help fast. Follow the FAST model – Face – does one side of the face drop when they try to smile, Arm – does one arm drift downward when they try to raise both arms, Speech – is the person slurring while speaking, Time – call the emergency immediately, time is important, take notes of when the stroke happened.
These are just some of the possible scenarios you might find yourself in. Whatever happens don’t turn your back, at least you can make the space clear and keep others away from the injured person. Saving someone’s life is priceless.