FIRST AID/CPR: TAKE-HOME POINTS
This depends on where you are when an emergency occurs. If you are at work, and you are expected to provide basic first aid and CPR as part of your job, then you must help unless it is unsafe to do so. If providing first aid or emergency response is not part of your job, or you are off-duty, then the decision to help is yours to make. We hope that this course will make you more confident in your first aid skills, and that you will be willing to help when an emergency occurs. If you are not comfortable or willing to help, remember to activate the emergency response system to get help to the victim.
Always ask for permission to help before providing first aid care. Even if someone is injured or appears to be ill, he/she has a right to refuse your help – if this happens, activate the emergency response system if needed. If the victim is confused or unconscious, you may assume they would want you to help.
No, while you may see some water in the victim’s nose and mouth, it is not necessary to attempt the Heimlich maneuver or other choking maneuvers. Water will not obstruct the airway like a solid object would. If the victim is not responding and does not have normal breathing, start CPR! Regular CPR will remove any water from the airway.
Yes – while very uncommon, there are a couple scenarios in which removing an impaled object is necessary. If the victim needs CPR (unresponsive with no normal breathing) and the object interferes with your ability to perform CPR, it may be removed. Another scenario would be an impaled object that is blocking the victim’s airway. Again, these situations are very uncommon and an impaled object should be left in place until trained rescuers arrive whenever possible.
Not usually. A tourniquet should only be used when bleeding is severe and cannot be controlled with direct pressure. When a tourniquet is applied, all blood flow to the arm or leg is stopped – this can cause permanent injury and even loss of the limb. However, if the injury causing the bleeding can be quickly treated at a hospital, the tourniquet may be removed and the limb saved in most cases. Remember that most bleeding can be controlled with direct pressure.
No. There are many different chemicals or poisons, and what is helpful for one type of poisoning may be harmful on another type. Some chemicals may cause further harm if the victim vomits, and vomiting may lead to airway or breathing problems. Treatment should be determined by the type of poisoning. The Poison Help hotline is the best resource for treatment recommendations specific to the type of poisoning.
No, hypothermia can occur at any time of year. Children and the elderly are at increased risk of hypothermia.
Many folks use aloe to treat sunburns and minor burns. However, aloe should not be applied to a serious burn or to an open wound. In general, if the burn requires first aid care, do not put anything on the burn other than water to cool to area and a dry dressing to cover the burned area.
Yes! Chest pain or discomfort is a “classic” sign of a heart attack, but a heart attack can occur without chest pain, or even without any pain at all. Pain from a heart attack may also be felt in the back, arms, shoulders, neck or jaw. Some heart attack victims do not feel any pain – look for other signs and symptoms, such as trouble breathing, nausea, cool or sweaty skin, weakness or palpitations.
No. You should not give your medication to someone else. Prescription medications should only be used by the person to whom they are prescribed.
An Epinephrine auto-injector (“Epi-Pen”) should only be used treat a severe allergic reaction – anaphylaxis. Epinephrine is a powerful drug, and does have side effects. It should only be used when a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction occurs. If you do not see signs and symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, do not administer Epinephrine.
Signs and symptoms of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) include: swelling of the face, mouth, and throat; an itchy rash or hives all over the body, and trouble breathing.
Never put anything into the seizure victim’s mouth. Trying to do so can break teeth or cause an airway obstruction. While it is true that seizure victim’s may bite their tongue, this usually occurs at the onset of the seizure, and trying to prevent it from happening can do more harm than good. It is not possible to “swallow your tongue” . . . your tongue is well-attached to the bottom of your mouth! What can happen when a seizure victim loses consciousness is the tongue falls to the back of the throat, blocking the airway. This is best corrected using the same “head-tilt, chin-lift” maneuver used to open the airway during CPR.
When cardiac arrest occurs, chest compressions are the most important part of CPR. Opening the airway and giving rescue breaths is difficult, and some rescuers will be reluctant to give rescue breaths. By starting with chest compressions, these delays can be avoided. By reducing the time to chest compressions for victims of cardiac arrest, survival rates will increase.
Yes! If you are not comfortable giving mouth-to-mouth breaths (and don’t have a barrier device available), you should start chest compressions, delivering continuous chest compressions at a rate of at least 100 compressions per minute. Giving only chest compressions is still helpful – in fact, Compressions-Only (“Hands-Only”) CPR is now being taught to the general public, and is used by medical dispatchers when they give CPR instructions over the phone.