First aid

First aid refers to the help in emergencies by the first person to reach the scene of the accident or the emergency location. This is not about professional help from emergency services, but about actions that every single person can carry out. Since the rescue service can only be on site after a few minutes, first aid in many emergencies is the decisive factor for the survival of the person concerned. Regular first aid courses can show the rescuer how to help a person affected in certain situations.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation

If a person's heart stops for various reasons, there are only a few minutes left to save that person. With every minute that the heart does not beat, the probability of survival drops by about ten percent. However, the rescue service is only on site after eight minutes on average. To stop this process, it is important that first responders begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

The helper checks the awareness of the person concerned by speaking and shaking them. Then he overstretched his head so that the airways are free and checks whether the person is breathing. To do this, the helper takes his head sideways, close to the person's mouth and nose. If there is no breathing, the helper first calls the emergency services on 112 and then starts cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

The helper places one hand on the patient's breastbone at the level of the nipples and puts the other hand over it. Then he begins to press down the breastbone with strong pressure. The pressure depth is approximately six centimeters for an average adult. The speed should be between 100 and 120 times per minute.

The chest should be fully relieved between compressions. After pressing 30 times, the helper again overextends the patient's head and puts his mouth over the patient's mouth. The nose is closed and the helper ventilates twice. Then the compression of the chest continues.

The helper repeats this until he is relieved by the rescue service or a second helper. If the helper is too disgusted to ventilate the person affected, he can omit ventilation. The push is the more important part of the CPR and should then be done without interruption.

Read more on the topic:

  • Cardiovascular arrest
  • resuscitation
  • Ventilation
  • Resuscitation in the infant

Stable side position

If a person becomes unconscious, their entire muscles become slack. This also applies to the tongue muscles. In the case of an unconscious person lying on their back, the base of the tongue falls into the throat and can thus prevent breathing. In addition, emergency patients can vomit for various reasons and this can also get into the airways and make breathing impossible. Both problems can be prevented with a simple first aid technique.

The helper first stretches his head so that air again comes past the base of the tongue and checks whether the person concerned is breathing. With normal breathing, the unconscious person is placed on the side. To do this, the arm facing the helper is placed upwards at a right angle. The other arm is placed over the person's body so that the hand rests on the shoulder. The arm has to be held, otherwise the lack of muscle tension will cause it to fall back.

The leg facing away from the helper is bent and also held. Now the helper can hold the affected person by the shoulder and knee and turn towards him. The hand under the patient's head is positioned so that it does not press on the windpipe. The head has to be overstretched again and the mouth is opened. In this position, the person can breathe freely and vomit can drain. Now the helper has time to make an emergency call and search the victim for other injuries.

Find out more about the topic: Stable side position

First aid course

The above first aid measures can somehow be put into words, but it is difficult to actually implement them without practice. All aid organizations and many hospitals and companies regularly offer courses for this purpose. A first aid course comprises nine teaching units and can therefore be completed in a single day.

In Germany, this course is only compulsory for driving license applicants and certain professional groups, but can be attended by anyone interested. In the course the participants learn how to secure accident sites, how to make an emergency call and some first aid techniques. It is discussed when what help is required. Each participant practically practices how a lateral position works, how cardiopulmonary resuscitation works and how to apply a pressure bandage.

In addition to the practical teaching units, an overview of common clinical pictures, such as heart attacks and strokes, is given. The First Aid Working Group recommends attending a course again every two years. In this way, the helpers stay fit for an emergency and also receive first aid innovations directly. In addition, courses specifically for first aid can be attended, which can be of particular interest to young parents and educators.

This article might also interest you: Emergency medicine

Automatic external defibrillator

Automatic external defibrillators, or AEDs for short, now hang in many public buildings. These are marked with a green and white sign with a heart with a lightning bolt and a cross on it. In the event of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, everyone can remove the AED from its anchorage and use it.

The devices are optimized for lay use. This means that the devices are easy to use. Each device has two buttons, an on button and a shock button. After pressing the on button, the device begins to speak and gives the user precise instructions on what to do.

The adhesive electrodes must be attached to the patient's chest as marked. Then comes the instruction not to touch the person concerned. The device analyzes the heart rhythm and decides whether defibrillation is necessary. Defibrillation is only activated in the case of ventricular fibrillation, i.e. when the heart function receives chaotic electrical signals.

Further information on the topic can be found here: Ventricular flutter and ventricular fibrillation

The AED will not trigger in the event of a complete cardiac arrest. If the AED decides that a shock makes sense, the shock button flashes and the assistant is asked not to touch the patient and to press the button. In addition to using the AED, normal cardiopulmonary resuscitation must always be performed. The AED is just an aid. The normal AED can only be used from a patient age of around eight years. However, some devices also have children's electrodes that allow the AED to use a lower voltage when shocking.

Read more on the topic: Defibrillator

First aid for a heart attack

Heart attack is one of the most common causes of death in western countries. The cause is a blockage of the coronary arteries, i.e. the blood vessels that supply the heart with oxygen. This leads to the death of the heart muscles and thus to cardiac arrhythmia up to and including cardiac arrest.

The typical symptoms of a heart attack are chest tightness, radiating pain, especially in the left arm, and shortness of breath. Some people, especially women, also have atypical symptoms, such as jaw pain or abdominal pain. If a heart attack is suspected, an emergency call must always be made.

Read more on the topic: Signs of a heart attack

The affected person should be positioned with the upper body elevated so that no additional pressure is exerted on the weakened heart. Tight ties or scarves can be loosened. If there is an AED in the vicinity, it should be fetched by another helper. This is a precautionary measure.

If the affected person passes out, their breathing should be checked again. If breathing is present, a lateral position should be used and if there is no breathing, resuscitation should be initiated. All observations should be reported to the emergency services.

Further information on the subject can be found at: Therapy of a heart attack

First aid for a stroke

Stroke is one of the most common emergencies in the western world and one of the most common causes of need for care. A stroke is a blocked or burst blood vessel in the brain. The areas of the brain that are supplied by this vessel die off. Depending on the location, the symptoms can be very different, but there are some symptoms that serve as warning signs and require a direct emergency call.

The affected person can have a one-sided paralysis of the facial muscles and thus have crooked facial expressions. Paralysis on one side of the body is also possible. Furthermore, the person concerned may have speech disorders and report headaches. Consciousness can also be clouded. The ambulance service is to be notified immediately of every single symptom.

Read more on the topic: What are the signs of a stroke?

In addition to the emergency call, permanent care of the person concerned is required. The upper body should be elevated, but an armchair is recommended here rather than a chair, as the risk of falling is less. In any case, the emergency services should be informed when the symptoms started, as this is important for further treatment in the hospital. If the person has high blood pressure, they should not take any medication themselves, as the blood pressure is required to keep the brain supplied with oxygen.

You might also be interested in:

  • Stroke measures
  • Stroke therapy

First aid for epilepsy

Epilepsy is just one of the many reasons a person can have a seizure. In the event of an unconscious full body seizure, the first aider cannot intervene directly. Under no circumstances should the person concerned be held and biting wedges should not be used. Both the helper and the person concerned threaten injuries.

Objects in the immediate vicinity should be put away or padded with blankets. After the attack, the person is usually very tired or almost passed out. A side position is to be used here. The ambulance service must be notified whenever there is a seizure.

For more information on the topic, see: Epileptic Seizure

First aid in case of poisoning

There is hardly a group of emergency pictures that can be more different than poisoning. The helper should always pay attention to self-protection first, as some poisons can be absorbed through the skin or the respiratory tract. After the emergency call has been called, basic measures, such as lying on the side when the person is unconscious, should be carried out and the helper should secure the poison.

Since some poisons cause damage again when vomiting, this should not be done without informing the poison control center. Drinking water can also be harmful, depending on the poison, which is why you must always wait for the emergency services or call the poison control center. The fire brigade control center can make this call itself or put the helper through.

Also read the article on: Poisoning and chemical burns

First aid for chemical burns

Chemical burns are rather rare injuries, but can occur when handling cleaning agents or at certain workplaces. First of all, the first aider has to take care of himself so that he does not come into contact with the substance.
The first measure is to rinse the affected area, otherwise corrosive substances can continue to eat into the skin. Then the helper can cover the wound with sterile bandages or compresses and alert the emergency services.

First aid for asthma

Asthma is a common disease that often affects younger people as well. Those affected develop, triggered by influences such as weather, sport, allergies, stress and shortness of breath. The problems are especially with exhaling. Many asthmatics have emergency sprays that the first aider can help with.

The breathing instruction against the slightly closed lips can also help some sufferers. If the application of the spray does not have an immediate effect, an emergency call should be made. Opening tight clothing can help the person affected psychologically.

Also read the article on the topic: Asthma attack

First aid at birth

Birth is a natural process and not an emergency in principle. However, giving birth should not necessarily take place on the bus or in the grocery store. The first aider can ask the woman to wheeze away contractions so that the actual labor pains are stopped. The woman shouldn't press yet.
The emergency call must also be made here. If the birth has already started, the first aider should shield the woman and get dry towels. After the birth, the helper must not cut the umbilical cord under any circumstances, as this can lead to severe blood loss if carried out incorrectly.

This article might also interest you: The process of a birth

First aid for hypoglycaemia

Slight hypoglycaemia can affect everyone, but a sharp drop in blood sugar is only to be expected in known diabetics who have injected too much insulin or eaten too little. Those affected therefore often know for themselves what their problem is. As long as the person concerned is conscious and can swallow safely, the first aider can serve this glucose or sweet drink.

If you lose consciousness, the basic first aid measures must be carried out again. If the sugar is sufficiently effective, no rescue service is required, but an emergency call should be made in more severe cases.

Read more on the topic: What to do if you have hypoglycaemia

First aid for sunstroke / heat stroke

High temperatures and solar radiation can cause severe damage to the human body. With sunstroke, the person affected has a red head and reports dizziness, headaches and nausea. The heat stroke patient is warm and exhausted all over his body. In the event of sunstroke or heat stroke, the helper should take the person out of the sun into a cool, shady area. Wet towels can cool the head during sunstroke.

The victim should be positioned with the upper body elevated. In the case of both illnesses, the first aider can also offer the affected person cool drinks. An emergency call must be made in the event of impaired consciousness or severe nausea and neck pain.

Read more on the topic: Sunstroke and heat stroke

First aid in case of frostbite / hypothermia

Frostbite is a local injury that must be covered with sterile covers and treated by a doctor. Hypothermia is a disease that is characterized by a drop in body temperature. As long as the person concerned is still trembling, the helper can take him to a warm room and offer warm drinks.

In the case of severe hypothermia and lack of tremors, the affected person should not be moved. The helper should dial the emergency number and organize blankets for the person concerned. No active heat may be supplied. That means no hot water bottles, no hair dryer and no skin rubbing. In the absence of awareness, however, the side position is still required.

Further information on the subject can be found at: Hypothermia

First aid for broken bones

Sports injuries, traffic accidents and many other situations can result in broken bones. A distinction is made between open and closed fractures. An open fracture should be covered sterile by the first aider. Broken bones should be left in the position found and possibly stabilized with blankets.

A displaced fracture will not be repaired by the first responder, as this can lead to further damage and pain. Some sufferers can benefit from cooling with wet towels or packed cool packs. The ambulance service must be called again.

For more information, see: Broken bone

First aid for burn injuries

Burn injuries are among the most painful injuries a person can suffer. For burns smaller than the palm of the hand, the rescuer should cool the area with lukewarm water. The water should not be poured directly onto the wound, but should run in slowly.

All burn injuries should be covered with sterile drapes. If available in the first-aid kit, Aluderm bandages should be used as they are less likely to stick together. Burn injuries should always go to a hospital, with larger areas always with the rescue service. Under no circumstances should the first aider apply ointments to the skin.

For more information, see: scalding

First aid for eye injuries

The eyes are very sensitive organs and the loss of sight is a great fear for many people. In the event of burns or other foreign bodies in the eye, the first aider can carefully rinse the affected eye from the inside out so that the substances do not hit the second eye through the rinsing.
In the case of open injuries, both eyes, including the healthy one, must be covered in a sterile manner, as the eyes move when coupled. The care provided by the first aider is very important here, as the person concerned cannot see what is happening to him. The ambulance service must be alerted because the person concerned needs a special clinic.

For more information, see: Eye burn

Emergency numbers

The ambulance service can be reached across Europe on number 112. There are other telephone numbers in some countries, but 112 in Europe always leads to fire brigade control centers. The police can also answer 110 emergency calls and forward them to the fire brigade.
In other holiday countries you should find out the local telephone numbers before starting your trip. In addition to 112, there is also an emergency medical service in Germany with 116117. This can be used to contact a doctor who makes house calls for less serious illnesses.

PECH rule

In first aid and emergency medicine there are many mnemonics that help you to take the right measures even in stressful situations. The PECH rule comes from the field of sports injuries.

The P stands for pause, as the person concerned cannot continue playing straight away. The E stands for ice, as cooling has a pain-relieving effect on almost all sports injuries. The C stands for Compression, which in first aid only means that the sports shoe can be left on and so the swelling is less. The H stands for high, as elevating the foot or hand can also relieve pain.

Also read the article on the topic: PECH rule

Printing compound

While for most injuries, covering the wound with bandages, some injuries can lead to bleeding that is so severe that simply covering the wound is not enough. A pressure bandage is then applied. First the helper holds up the affected part of the body and tries to squeeze the artery on the upper arm.
A second helper puts a compress on the wound and wraps a bandage around the part of the body once. Then a wrapped bandage package is placed on the wound and the bandage is further wrapped tightly. Finally, a knot is pulled tightly directly above the pressure pad. This should stop the bleeding. If the bleeding continues, a second pressure bandage can be placed on the first.

Also read the article on the topic: Hemostasis- This is the quickest way to stop bleeding

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