First Aid: Loss of consciousness (a blackout)

First Aid: Loss of consciousness (a blackout)

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First Aid: Loss of consciousness (a blackout)

A blackout is a temporary loss of consciousness. If someone loses consciousness for a few seconds or minutes, they are often said to have had a blackout.

There are three major reasons for why people may experience a blackout:

Syncope: a sudden lack of blood supply to the brain. Syncope is caused by a problem in the regulation of blood pressure or by a problem with the heart.

Epilepsy: an electrical ‘short-circuiting’ in the brain. Epileptic attacks are usually called seizures. Diagnosis of epilepsy is made by a neurologist.

Psychogenic blackouts: resulting from stress or anxiety. Psychogenic blackouts occur most often in young adults. They may be very difficult to diagnose. ‘Psychogenic’ does not mean that people are ‘putting it on’. However there is often underlying stress due to extreme pressure at school or work. In exceptional cases it may be that some people have experienced ill treatment or abuse in childhood.

First Aid

First aid is only temporary help given in an emergency in order to preserve life, prevent further injury and relieve suffering until qualified medical care is given. You save lives by acting immediately when someone

• stops breathing

• is bleeding heavily

• loses consciousness

• is poisoned

The first aider must be aware of his limits and summon qualified medical assistance as quickly as possible.

Protection of the casualty

• Look around you to see whether there is any further danger to the patient or to your self

• If possible, leave the patient lying where he is until he has been examined. If you must move him, do so with extreme caution.


• If the patient vomits place him in the recovery position (on his side) to prevent him from choking

• If breathing stops, use artificial respiration

• cover the patient to keep him warm and protect him against the elements

• bandage and immobilize injured patients

• determine the best way to transport the patient

• summon qualified help as quickly as possible


• Check whether the casualty is conscious

• If not, check whether he is breathing

• If the casualty is not breathing clear his airways

• Draw the lower jaw forward and tilt the head back until the chin is higher than the nose. Now pull the tongue forward from the back of the throat

If the casualty is still not breathing, begin artificial respiration

• Pinch his nostrils

• Take a deep breath

• Place your mouth over his and blow into his mouth once every five seconds

If the casualty is breathing, place him in the recovery position 


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