SAVE LIVES

Reading This Article Could Save Lives

Picture the scene. You are in a crowded street, when, without warning, the man walking in front of you falls to the ground. What is your instinct? Panic and hurry away? Call 999 Or get down beside him, assess his state and give him life saving first aid?

Incident happen like this every day and having the knowledge and skills to provide the help that is needed can make all the difference between life and death. And yet, according to experts at St John Ambulance, up to 140,000 people die each year in situations where first aid could have helped save their lives – that is as many as die from cancer.

Would you:

a. Reach for indigestion tablets; wait half an hour to see if things improve?
b. ie them down and go hunting for some aspirin?
c. Sit them with their knees raised and call 999?

What you should do

The answer is c.

These are probably signs of a heart attack. The person may also feel or be sick, be dizzy and sweaty with a weak, rapid pulse with pain radiating into their jaw or arm, if they have heart medication, or if you have a 300mg aspirin to hand, give it to them (check for allergy first) but don’t leave them alone. Anyone who has had a heart attack needs constant monitoring. Monitor and record their breathing and pulse rate while waiting for help.

Would you:

a.Loosen their clothing and put a makeshift pillow below their head?
b.Put a spoon or flat object in their mouth to stop biting the tongue?
c.Hold them tightly to prevent them from hurting themselves?

What you should do

The correct answer is a.

These are symptoms of a seizure and it is vital to keep the person safe while it is happening – remove anything dangerous and never try to restrain them, force anything into their mouth or move them. When the seizure is over, make sure their airway is open, check their breathing and place them in the recovery position. If the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, they are unconscious for more than 10, have further seizures or can’t explain why the seizure has happened, call 999.

Would you:

a.Make them comfortable and keep a close eye on them?
b.Give them aspirin in case they are having a heart attack?
c.Give them a piece of chocolate, biscuit or a sugary drink?

What you should do

The correct answer is c.

These are symptoms of hypoglycaemic attack, a potentially life threatening condition which affects diabetics when blood sugar levels fall dangerously low. Someone having a hypo needs sugar quickly. If they are unconscious it is a medical emergency, so call 999.

Would you:

a.Lie them down and try to calm them down?
b.Encourage them to breathe slowly and deeply, loosen any tight clothing and sit them learning forward over the back of a chair?
c.Take them into the bathroom and turn on the shower so that the steam will help their breathing?

What you should do

The correct answer is b.

These are typical symptoms of an asthma attack. Most asthma sufferers will carry a blue inhaler designed to relieve symptoms, so look for it and encourage them to use it. If the attack is very severe, gets worse or the inhaler doesn’t help after 5 minutes, call 999 and be sure to get them to continue using the inhaler.

Would you:

a.Get them to go and lie down and keep a close eye on them?
b.Give them aspirin to relieve their headache and suggest they go to see their GP?
c.Do the FAST test? Ask them to smile, raise both arms above their head and also talk to you. if their mouth droops, they are unable to raise both arms and their speech is slurred, you call 999.

What you should do

The correct answer is c.

The person is having a stroke, caused by a portion of the brain being starved of oxygen. This is a medical emergency that needs urgent treatment. Research shows that if patients receive treatment fast – ie. Within 3 hours of initial symptoms – then treatment with a clot busting drug can significantly boost their chances of a full recovery. However, only 80 per cent of strokes are cause by clots and giving aspirin to someone who has suffered a haemorrhagic stroke (which is caused by a bleed into the brain ) can exacerbate the problem.

Would you:

a.Apply ice to the area to cool the burn?
b.Run his arm under the cold tap for at least 10 minutes and cover with cling film?
c.Apply butter or a cooling lotion to the area and then cover the area with a plaster?

What you should do

The answer is b.

The key when someone suffers a burn is to cool the area down which reduces the swelling and pain by conducting the heat away from the skin. Do not use ice, which may cool the person’s body down too quickly, or lotions or any fluffy or adhesive dressings, or break the blister. Once the pain has been alleviated, cover with a non-fluffy dressing – a clean plastic bag or some kitchen film will work if you don’t have a dressing. If a large area is affected take the person directly to A&E.

Would you:

a. Hit her hard on the back up to 5 times?
b.Open her mouth to try and extricate the food?
c.Give her a large glass of water to wash it down?

What you should do

The answer is a.

if you try to remove the food you may actually push it further down and water will just create a further blockage. Hit the person hard in the middle of the back up to 5 times. If this doesn’t work you need to perform abdominal thrusts (the Heimlich manoeuvre) to try and dislodge it: first, stand behind the person holding your clenched fist between their tummy button and the end of their breastbone and put your other hand flat on top. Then, pull in and up sharply, up to 5 times. If this doesn’t work go back to blows on their back and alternate the two. If you have used abdominal thrusts the person must be taken to A&E afterwards.

If someone is unconscious and breathing……..

  • Turn them onto their side in the recovery position.
  • Lift their chin forward, making sure their airway is open and put their hand under their cheek. Make sure they can’t roll forwards or backwards
  • Call 999
  • Watch them carefully to make sure they continue breathing.

If someone is unconscious and not breathing start CPR

  • Call 999 for an ambulance immediately
  • Place the heel of your hand in the centre of their chest, put the other hand flat on the top and interlock your fingers
  • Keeping your arms straight and your fingers off their chest press down 5-6cm, then release the pressure, keeping your hands in place
  • Do 30 compressions at 100-120 per minute – St John Ambulance say it should be about the speed of ‘Nelly the Elephant’
  • Then, making sure their airway is open, start rescue breaths
  • Pinch their nose closed, take a deep breath, put your lips around their mouth and blow into their mouth until their chest rises
  • Remove your mouth and allow their chest to fall then repeat
  • Continue with 30 compressions followed by 2 rescue breaths until emergency help arrives or they show signs of recovery