First-aid training imparts skills that may be called upon at any time. Emergency medical situations can develop with anyone at any time. The more people who are trained in first-aid procedures, the higher the likelihood of someone being there to help if an emergency happens. Learning five critical first-aid skills necessary to render emergency first-aid not only can save a loved one, but they may be used to save your own life some day.
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) keeps blood circulating to vital organs in the event of a heart attack. Anything from a blocked artery that feeds the heart to an electrical abnormality in the nerve conduction fibers of the heart can cause loss of normal heart rhythm. The heart muscle normally squeezes blood in a rhythm to keep it moving through the circulatory system. A malfunction in this rhythm can lead to death due to lack of oxygen to vital organs.
It is the blood that carries the oxygen. The old way of doing CPR was to breathe mouth-to-mouth into the lungs of the victim and to compress the heart between the sternum and spine with chest compressions. Studies have now provided us with further information, having shown that there is enough residual oxygen in blood to keep organs alive if only rapid chest compressions are maintained without the mouth-to-mouth breathing. The American Heart Association is now teaching chest compression-only CPR to be done to the beat of the 1977 Bee Gees song “Stayin’ Alive.”
2. Controlling Blood Loss
Basic first-aid teaches how to keep pressure on a wound to stop the loss of blood. An arterial bleed can lead to blood loss capable of causing death in less than two minutes. Advanced first-aid courses may offer training on how to use hemostatic agents, also known as anti-hemorrhagic agents, to stop blood loss. These products are available in different brands, and they are applied directly into the wound to stop blood loss from serious wounds. One product uses chitosan from shrimp shells that gels on contact with blood to form a clot to stop even large arterial blood flow loss.
3. Helping a Choking Victim
The Heimlich maneuver is the standard for dislodging whatever is blocking the airway of a choking victim who cannot breathe at all. This maneuver is taught in most basic first-aid courses. Though the basics of how it is performed can be learned from a book, it is good to have classroom instruction using medical training mannequins. The Heimlich maneuver can also be self-performed using the back of a wooden or metal chair or the edge of a counter.
4. Treating Shock
Shock can occur after trauma. Circulatory shock occurs when vital organs are not getting enough blood flow. It can be caused by anything from blood loss to severe allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis. Shock may occur after a car accident. Blunt force trauma from hitting interior surfaces of the car may cause internal bleeding that is not externally evident. Internal bleeding may lead to hypovolemic (not enough blood in the circulatory system) shock.
5. Recognizing Stroke
Though there is little that can be done by a layperson to treat stroke victims on the scene, the ability to recognize the signs can save lives. Fast recognition of stroke symptoms lead to getting emergency medical treatment quicker. Every second counts when it comes to getting stroke victims treated.
First-aid training can be taught to people of all ages, from children to seniors. First-aid training is a skill that can be built upon by progressively taking more advanced classes. Every individual stands to benefit from first-aid training—at worst, it’s an unused skill and at best, it could save a life. For more information about first aid training and the legality of administering first aid in an emergency situation, consult a medical legal consultant or your legal representative.