Introduction to First Aid, basics
First aid is the provision of immediate care to a victim with an injury of illness, usually effected by a lay person, and performed within a limited skill range. First aid is normally performed until the injury or illness is satisfactorily dealt with (such as in the case of small cuts, minor bruises, and blisters) or until the next level of care, such as an ambulance or doctor, arrives.
The key guiding principles and purpose of first aid, is often given in the mnemonic “3 Ps”. These three points govern all the actions undertaken by a first aider.
• Prevent further injury
• Preserve life
• Promote recovery
THE FIRST AIDERA: first aider is the term describing any person who has received a certificate from an authorised training body indicating that he or she is qualified to render first aid.
GOOD SAMARITAN: refers to “someone who renders aid in an emergency to an injured person on a voluntary basis”
The nature of first aid means that most people will only have a limited knowledge, and in emergency situations, first aiders are advised to FIRST seek professional help. This is done by calling, or assigning an able bystander to call, an emergency number, which is 1-1-2 in Croatia and all other member states of the European Union. In emergency situations, it is important that the responder seek help immediately, seeking professional help by other means, if telephone contact is unavailable. The risks of inadvertently doing further injury to a victim, and/or the responder sustaining injury themselves while applying aid, can often outweigh the benefits of applying immediate treatment.
Many first aid situations take place without a first aid kit readily to hand and it may be the case that a first aider has to improvise materials and equipment. As a general rule, some help is better than no help, especially in critical situations, so a key first aid skill is the ability to adapt to the situation, and use available materials until more help arrives.
Some common improvisations include:
• Gloves → plastic bags, dish gloves,…
• Gauze → clean clothing (but not paper products)
• Splints → straight sections of wood, plastic, cardboard or metal
• Slings → the victim’s shirt’s bottom hem pinned to the center of their chest will immobilize a forearm nicely
Legal Aspects of Providing First Aid
The Good Samaritan principle prevents someone who has voluntarily helped another in need from being sued for ‘wrongdoing.’ Since governments want to encourage people to help others, they pass specific “Good Samaritan” laws or apply the principle to common laws. You are generally protected from liability as long as:
• You are reasonably careful,
• You act in “good faith” (not for a reward),
• You do not provide care beyond your skill level.
If you decide to help an ill or injured person, you must not leave them until someone with equal or more emergency training takes over – unless of course, it becomes dangerous for you to stay.
Consent means permission. A responsive adult must agree to receive first aid care. “Expressed Consent” means the victim gives his or her permission to receive care. To get consent, first identify yourself. Then tell the victim your level of training and ask if it’s okay to help. “Implied Consent” means that permission to perform first aid care on an unresponsive victim is assumed. This is based on the idea that a reasonable person would give their permission to receive lifesaving first aid if they were able.
Use Common Sense
There is no evidence there has ever been a single successful lawsuit in the United States against a per-son providing first aid in good faith. Still, it is necessary to use common sense. Never attempt skills that exceed your training. Don’t move a victim unless their life is in danger. Call for an ambulance immediately, even if you decide not to give first aid. Always ask a responsive victim for permission before giving care. Once you have started first aid, don’t stop until qualified help arrives.
Emotional Aspects of Providing First Aid
Both the first aid provider and the victim may suffer emotional distress during and/or following a traumaticincident.2The seriousness or horror of the incident will be a factor in determining the amount of emotion-al distress. It may be worse in human-made events; for example, a terrorist attack or mass shooting. Pro-viding first aid care for a seriously injured or ill child is generally more emotionally difficult than caring for an adult.
Symptoms of a traumatic stress reaction include a pounding heartbeat and fast breathing which may begin during or within minutes of the traumatic event. Feelings of guilt for not having done more, worrying about the safety of loved ones, nightmares, and thinking about the event repeatedly may follow the incident.
Stress reactions are a normal, human response to a traumatic event and are usually temporary.3With the help of family and friends, most people gradually feel better as time goes by. If you feel you need extra help coping after a traumatic event, call your doctor or ask friends if they can recommend a mental-health professional. The organization you work for may have an Employee Assistance Program available to assist you.
The risk of getting exposed to a disease while giving first aid is extremely low. Even so, it is prudent to protect yourself from any exposure. Blood borne pathogens are viruses or bacteria that are carried in blood and can cause disease in people. There are many different blood borne pathogens, but Hepatitis B (HBV) and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) are the two diseases commonly addressed by health and safety standards. “Universal Pre-cautions” is a way to limit the spread of disease by preventing contact with blood and certain body fluids. To “observe Universal Precautions” means that whether or not you think the victim’s blood or body fluid is infected, you act as if it is.
Personal Protective Equipment
Personal protective equipment provides a barrier between you and a victim’s blood or body fluid. Disposable gloves are the most recognized barrier and should always be worn whenever blood or body fluids are or may become present.
When using gloves always quickly inspect them before putting them on. If a glove is damaged, don’t use it! When taking contaminated gloves off, do it carefully. Don’t snap them. This may cause blood to sip latter. Never wash or reuse disposable gloves. If you find yourself in a first aid situation and you don’t have any gloves handy, improvise. Use a towel, plastic bag, or some other barrier to help avoid direct contact. Make sure there is always a fresh supply of gloves in your first aid kit.
Anytime there is a risk of splatter, goggles or safety glasses with side protection should also be used to help protect your eyes.
To reduce the risk of infection, you should:
• Always wear personal protective equipment in first aid situations.
• Carefully remove gloves, clothing, and any other contaminated material. Place them in appropriately labeled bags or containers. After providing first aid, wash your hands and other exposed skin thoroughly with an antibacterial soap and warm water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
Care of personal belongings
Make sure the casualty’s belongings are with him at all times. If you have to search belongings for identification or clues to a person’s condition (medication, for example), do so in front of a reliable witness. If possible, ask the casualty’s permission before you do this. Afterward, ensure that all of the clothing and personal belongings and medication accompany the casualty to the hospital or are handed over to the police.