When it comes to providing first aid, nothing compares to actual, hands-on medical training. If anything in this set of instruction conflicts with guidance you receive from a medical professional, follow the guidance of the medical professional.
Stay Calm, Call for Help, Act
Stay calm. Call for help. Triage and render aid.
If you fail to stay calm, you also become a casualty that other first-responders will have to care for.
Stay calm. Call for help. Triage the person’s injuries. Render aid as best you can until the medics arrive.
Triage is the process of assessing a person’s injuries and prioritizing them beginning with the most life threatening injury and ending with the least. For the purpose of basic first aid, there are four general categories to assess: breath, blood, bones, and shock.
Determining which category of injury is the most life threatening is up to your best judgment. Bleeding and breathing are typically the two highest priorities when triaging a casualty, but it’s impossible to predict every situation so your judgment has to fill the gap.
If the person isn’t breathing or is having difficulty breathing you should consider this a high priority. Any time a person goes without breathing for several minutes, there’s a risk of suffering brain damage. Typically, irreversible brain damage can set in within 5-10 minutes. Beyond 10 minutes, recovery is nearly impossible.
Controlling bleeding is critical. Depending on the location of the bleed, it’s possible for a person to bleed out within minutes. A pressure dressing applied to the wound is preferable to control bleeding, but a tourniquet can be more effective.
A broken bone, by itself, is not typically life threatening. Broken bones can, however, cause internal lacerations so they should be stabilized as much as possible to avoid this.
Shock is a condition where a person appears to be unaware of or unconcerned with their surroundings. Your goal should be to help keep the person calm, but alert and try to help improve their circulation and steady their breathing.
A concussion occurs when a person’s brain experiences a traumatic injury of some kind that affects the way their brain works. The cause of a concussion, however, is always some physical trauma or impact. Specialized medical training and/or imaging tools are necessary to properly diagnose a concussion, but there are some warning signs to look for that can identify a person’s increased likelihood of having a concussion. It can take hours or days before symptoms present themselves.