First aid

It can take a while after finding a person who needs help for the emergency services to arrive.

Overview

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?

Principles

  • 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

Bleeding

  • 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

There are separate articles for sports injuries, poisoning and burns.

Sports injuries

Apply the RICE guidelines
  • R: Rest
  • I: Cool with ice
  • C: Compression, slight pressure on the injured site
  • E: Elevate the affected limb
Poisoning
  • See glossary entry for poisoning
Burns
  • 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

Further information

Samariter Schweiz (Swiss Samaritans)
www.samariter.ch

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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