The following five steps will help you to organise your approach to treating those in need. These Foundations of First Aid are found in the back of the current Red Cross training manual.
Foundation 1: Protect Yourself
Your safety always has to come first. This is something we emphasise in every course as you’ll know if you’ve taken one. If something happens to you, who is coming to help? Maybe no-one, so ensure you are safe to act. This can include telling people to stay still; checking for obvious dangers like fires or an avalanche; turning off a vehicle ignition; or even keeping other people away from the accident scene. Protecting yourself also includes using appropriate PPE (like gloves or a barrier mask).
Foundation 2: Act!
Do something. Maybe you’re worried to act, or scared of doing something wrong. The chances are that the person who has been hurt just wishes you would do something. Do the best that you can. Doing something is always better than doing nothing, even if all you can do is call for help and be comforting. Of course, if you take training you’ll be able to do much more.
Foundation 3: Remember the Basics
In current training, there are just three basic steps:
Check the scene for dangers (protect yourself) then check the person – are they conscious? Are they just asleep? Are they unresponsive and in need of an ambulance? Are they breathing? Are there signs of circulation? You know the drill – there’s lots of things in the ‘check’ before we move onto Call.
That doesn’t always mean you have to call an ambulance – it means you need to think about it. Is an ambulance needed? Should you call the child’s parents? Do you need to call the workplace manager? Are you going to call someone else with first aid training to help you?
Last comes care. Yes, it’s the last step, but it’s also the thing people think of as ‘real’ first aid. This is the bit where you apply bandages, tie slings or do CPR. But look how far you’ve already read down this page. There’s a lot you can do even if you haven’t got to your training course yet. (If you’re local, our training schedule is here – jus’ sayin’.)
Foundation 4: Activate EMS
Really, if you don’t know what else to do, just get professional help on the way. We can all use a phone and this may just be the thing that saves someone’s life.
Foundation 5: Prioritise
Care for the most serious condition first. It may not be the person who is crying – it could be the quest one who isn’t breathing. Check out The 4 B’s for First Aid for more information or just sign up for a course.