It can take a while after finding a person who needs help for the emergency services to arrive. During this time, laypeople can also provide valuable assistance and support. All that’s needed is basic knowledge and some practice: any action that helps is valuable and can even save lives!
What can I do myself?
- Only provide help if it doesn’t put you in danger!
- Fire, water and electricity, falling objects, etc.
- Get an overview: Who needs help? Are there other helpers? Can I handle the situation?
- Fetch an AED device (defibrillator) if there is one close by (even if you don't need it)
Follow the ABC principle
- A: Airways
- Talk to the patient, clear the airway (e.g. remove any objects that block the mouth), keep the airway clear (e.g. open mouth slightly)
- B: Breathing
- Check for breathing: is the chest rising and falling? Can you feel air coming from the mouth or nose against the moistened back of your hand?
- Not breathing: start rescue breathing (mouth-to-mouth resuscitation can be learned at a special first aid course)
- C: Circulation
- Check the pulse: e.g. on the side of the neck (never check both sides simultaneously)
- If there’s no pulse, start resuscitation (CPR can be learned at a special first aid course)
- Resuscitation usually at a 30:2 ratio; i.e. 30 chest compressions (“heart massage”) followed by 2 breaths
Lie unconscious persons on their side
- Only for persons who are breathing independently and have a pulse
- With the person lying on their back, kneel on the floor at their side
- Bend the person's knee farthest from you to a right angle, use your hand to stabilise them, if necessary
- Take their other arm and fold it so their hand rests on the shoulder closest to you (their elbow is now close to their chin)
- Take the bent knee with one hand and the opposite shoulder with the other
- Carefully roll the person towards you onto their side
- Gently tilt the head back, open their mouth
- The bent knee should now be on top and the head should be supported by the hand of the bent arm, as if they're sleeping
Using an AED device (defibrillator)
- Open the device
- Turn the person onto their back, open their clothes, dry them if they're wet
- Attach the sticky pads to the person’s chest as shown in the picture on the defibrillator
- Turn the defibrillator on, and do exactly what the device tells you to do
- For severe bleeding, apply pressure to stop the bleeding, maybe apply a pressure bandage
- As clean or sterile as possible: use a clean cloth, bandages, etc.
- Lie the person down, elevate the injury
- Don’t use a belt or something similar to tie off the bleeding
Apply the RICE guidelines
- R: Rest
- I: Cool with ice
- C: Compression, slight pressure on the injured site
- E: Elevate the affected limb
- See glossary entry for poisoning
- See glossary entry for burns
When to see a doctor?
- A doctor or the emergency services should be called when you:
- can't handle the situation
- come across an accident
- would have to put yourself in danger to provide help (e.g. after a fire)
Right way to call the emergency services
- Only after you’ve obtained an overview
- Only after you’ve tried to contact the person needing help / applied the first measures
- WHERE are you?
- WHO is phoning?
- WHAT happened?
- WHEN did it happen?
- HOW MANY people are affected?
- Give PHONE NUMBER for return calls
- Stay with the patient until the emergency services arrive