First aid is the initial care given to a sick or injured person before more formal medical assistance is applied. The goal of first aid is to intervene actively to prevent further damage, to provide life support, and to begin effective treatment of the victim's condition, to minimize injury and prevent death. Although first aid is not a substitute for medical care, those trained in first aid are able to assess the nature and the extent of an emergency and determine the best course of action to take until professional medical help arrives.
The need for training in first aid is evident, considering that injury is the fourth leading cause of death. Falls are the most common cause of injury, but motor vehicle accidents are the most lethal, accounting for 22 percent of injury deaths. An important thing to know when dealing with a first aid situation is to be up to date as far as procedures are concerned. Procedures like slapping a choking person on the back, putting iodine on a wound, cutting an X on a snake bite, putting ointment on burns, or using a tourniquet to stop bleeding are old, out dated procedures and have been replaced by new ones from the Red Cross association. If you decide to administer first aid, be sure you are familiar with current procedures.
First aid begins with a scene survey. Before approaching a victim, a survey of the area is necessary to determine if conditions surrounding the incident may place the victim and the rescuer in danger. Next, the primary survey will determine if lifesaving procedures must be immediately performed to save the victim's life. The primary survey involves checking the ABC's: A: Is the airway opened and the victim's neck stabilized? B: Is the patient breathing? C: Is the victim's blood circulating? Is there a pulse? Or is there active bleeding?
Lifesaving procedures include cardiopulmonary resuscitation , which may be needed to provide basic life support when a victim has no pulse and is not breathing. The Heimlich maneuver aids choking victims by forcing ejection of obstructing material from the windpipe. The severity of spinal cord injuries has decreased 30-45 percent due to awareness that the neck must be stabilized before moving the accident victim. External bleeding is controlled by direct pressure and elevation of the bleeding site. The secondary survey is a total body examination, a pulse check, respiration count, and observation of skin conditions. The only outward sign of severe medical problems, such as cardiac diseases, stroke, or internal bleeding, may be shock. Those in shock will have pale, cool, and clammy skin, a rapid and weak pulse, more than 20 respirations per minute, weakness, and confused behavior. Treatment involves minimizing body heat loss, elevating the legs without disturbing the rest of the body, and getting help as quickly as possible.
No one is required to render first aid under normal circumstances. Even a physician could ignore a stranger suffering a heart attack if he chose to do so. Exceptions include situations where a person's employment designates the rendering of first aid as a part of described job duties. Examples include lifeguards, law enforcement officers, park rangers and safety officers in industry. A duty to provide first aid also exists where an individual has presumed responsibility for another person's safety, as in the case of a parent-child or a driver-passenger relationship. While in most cases there is no legal responsibility to provide first aid care to another person, there is a very clear responsibility to continue care once you start. You cannot start first aid and then stop unless the victim no longer needs your attention, other first aiders take over the responsibility from you or you are physically unable to continue care. In every instance where first aid is to be provided, the victim's consent is required. It should be...
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