You never know when you will face a medical emergency, and having the basic knowledge of first aid could help you save someone’s life. These skills can be learned by taking first aid courses at training centres or online.
Basic skills like CPR, choking management, splinting, bleeding control, and burn management are essential life skills that are easy to learn and recall in emergencies. Below are 7 of the most important first aid skills you should have:
1. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
CPR is a well-known and essential first aid skill that is the basis of all other first aid principles. Learning CPR is a simple procedure that can save a life by reviving a person in cardiac arrest.
This maneuver will keep the blood flowing, thus ensuring oxygen flow to the brain, preserving its function, proper blood circulation, and breathing until help arrives. Knowing how to perform CPR is invaluable in an emergency and is part of most first aid courses.
2. Choking Management (Heimlich Maneuver)
Choking is the fourth leading cause of unintentional death. People choke on objects that obstruct the airways and cause suffocation.
However, a simple technique called the Heimlich maneuver, or abdominal thrusts, can help expel trapped objects from a person’s airway. Abdominal thrusts will lift the diaphragm and help expel air from the lungs causing the object to be removed from the airway to save life and prevent potential brain damage.
3. Bleeding Management
Excessive bleeding is considered an emergency, and it is important to slow or stop the bleeding. Excessive bleeding could mean that the injured may be bleeding from a severed main artery or vein. In these cases, it only takes 10-15 minutes for a person to bleed out completely; hence urgent and effective management is important as it is a matter of life or death. Below are the first-aid steps in managing severe bleeding.
- Remove any debris on the wound.
- Stop the bleeding
- Help the injured to lie down
- Don’t remove the bandage
- Apply tourniquet
- Immobilise the injured part
If you encounter an accident where you think someone has suffered a broken bone, splinting the injured body part will help preserve the injured area and prevent further damage. Applying a splint before moving the person would be wise because movement will cause worse damage and excessive pain.
You could use any stiff rod such as any household item if the accident happened at home or a stick if the accident happened outside. Tie it with a cloth such as clothing material and ensure that the splint is stable before moving the injured.
5. Sprain Management
Sprains are common injuries wherein ligaments inside joints are either stretched or torn, and the most common location is in your ankles. Ligaments are bands of fibrous connective tissue that hold two bones together to keep them steady.
The affected area should be bandaged, elevated, and applied with ice to stop the swelling until a proper consultation with a doctor is done. Mild sprains are easily treated with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). In contrast, severe sprains that did not heal over time despite therapy and exercise may require further management by a specialist to assess if surgery is necessary to repair torn ligaments. If a sprain is left untreated, it can cause long-term cartilage and tissue damage.
6. Burn Management
Burns is damage to the tissues that result from heat, overexposure to the sun, or chemical or electrical contact. Burns can either be minor or life-threatening, and treatment would depend on the location and severity of the burn.
Burns are differentiated into three categories based on how deeply the affected area has been damaged, and the higher the category/degree, the greater the damage.
First-degree burns only affect the outer layer of the skin and will only need topical remedies. Second-degree burns the outer layer, as well as the layer underneath, the dermis, is affected. Third-degree burns, also called full-thickness burns, destroy two top layers of skin and typically damage nerve endings.
7. Managing a Possible Concussion
Concussions are serious injuries and require immediate medical attention. Concussions usually occur after a severe blow to the head. You should ask the injured person if they experience incoherence and check for pupil dilation.
Imaging studies are sometimes required to rule out other serious injuries. For example, a concussion can have long-term repercussions on the brain if it is not treated. Therefore, postural stability testing is performed after symptoms have subsided to guarantee complete healing.
Knowledge of basic first aid is important for everyone because it will help prevent further damage to injured individuals and help save lives. There are first aid training you can avail of at training centres, or you can avail online courses if face-to-face training is not available.