What is first aid?
First aid is the preliminary care given to injured individuals to reduce the chances of permanent damage and to bridge the period between the actual injury and the point wherein proper medical care can be given to the patient.
Knowing first aid can easily save other people’s lives. All survivalists, regardless of their background and professions, should know first aid techniques.
During a disaster, one or more members of your family may require medical help for minor injuries such as wounds, breathing problems, unconsciousness due to trauma, etc.
A full first aid course or seminar will be able to provide you with live demonstrations of first aid techniques.
What is cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)?
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a first aid technique that helps maintain open and functioning airways and a beating heart. There are some incidents wherein a person will fall unconscious and he will not be able to breathe and his heart will stop beating (e.g. cardiac arrest).
CPR can help revive such a person and can also reduce the damage associated with breathing problems and cardiac anomalies that cause the heart to stop beating, even for a short period of time.
How can you apply CPR to a seemingly non-responsive patient?
There is a step-by-step process that you need to follow to ensure that you will be able to provide CPR and preliminary care as safely as possible to an unconscious/unresponsive person. Failure to follow the basic outline for CPR can put you or the patient in danger.
Step 1: Assess the Situation
How can you perform proper assessment?
You must not rush to an unconscious individual without first checking your surroundings.
The person administering the first aid must also be safe; do not put yourself in the direct path of danger as this will only make things more complicated if you end up being injured yourself.
If there is too much risk in approaching an unconscious individual, do not attempt to give that person CPR anymore. Leave the situation to emergency personnel as they have more training and experience.
Step 2: Establish Responsiveness
How can you establish the responsiveness of the victim/patient?
If the scene has been assessed as safe, approach the patient/victim carefully and examine his physical condition.
If you suspect spine or neck injury, do not move the patient as this may cause further damage. Shaking or changing the position of a person with potential spinal injury can also cause more problems
Ask the patient, “Are you okay?” This may not work immediately if the patient is shocked for some reason, so repeat the question and vary the volume of voice until you get a response.
If you do not get any type of response after a full minute, the patient is definitely unconscious and should be treated as such.
Step 3: Make the Patient Comfortable
How can you make a patient more comfortable?
Maintaining a high level of comfort is essential when providing first aid to an injured and unconscious individual. Loosen the person’s clothes, including any ties or belts he might be wearing. Remove the person’s shoes, bracelets, necklaces, etc. to enhance overall circulation to the extremities.
If the patient does not seem to have any spine or neck issues, lift his arm lightly and turn him to one side so that his cheek is rested on the ground. This is called the recovery position and it is highly recommended if the person is breathing normally but is unable to rise.
Step 4: Apply CPR If Needed
When do you know that CPR is needed?
There are two things you need to ascertain: the patient’s breathing and pulse.
Observe the person’s chest to see if it is rising and falling. You can also put the back of your fingers close to the patient’s mouth or nostrils to detect air movement.
If none of these tests produce a positive result, gently tilt the patient’s head back and lower his jaw to check for any breathing obstructions. Pinch his nose lightly and breathe into his mouth twice.
If the person begins coughing or gasping, stand back and let him recover. In the event that the initial respiratory aid doesn’t produce any response, continue breathing into the victim’s mouth every 5-10 seconds to see if he recovers and begins breathing on his own.
Next, check the victim’s pulse. If there is no pulse, find the centermost point of the ribcage and apply chest compressions. Your fingers should be gently laced together when applying pressure to the chest.
Aim to press down about 5 centimeters for each downward stroke. Each set of chest compressions should have 10-15 repetitions. Provide respiratory resuscitation if needed. Continue checking the person’s vital signs as you continue applying CPR.