First aid, as the name suggests, is the very first help, aid or immediate care given to the victim in case of injury, illness or trauma. There are times when the victim’s life is at stake due to injury or trauma, and the medical help is likely to take time to arrive. This is where first aid comes to the rescue. First aid is given before the professional medical treatment and can prove life saving, at times. In some cases, the requirement is only limited to first aid, while in other cases the first aid is the initial and temporary treatment, and the victim may require further medical care and surveillance.
Whether doctors, para-medics or a layman, first aider’s immediate response during the first 15 minutes, which is also known as Platinum Period, is important. And for this, one should know the ABC of it:
A – Airway
The victim’s airway should be clear or it may lead to choking. Make sure the tongue, foreign objects or any kind of fluid does not block the victim’s airway.
B – Breathing
Make sure the victim is able to breath freely and adequately, or first aid attendant will need to provide artificial respiration or rescue breathing, promptly.
C – Circulation
If the victim is bleeding profusely, check the pulse count for blood circulation.
It is the moral responsibility of the elders in the family to have a first aid kit at home. It is our prime duty to teach the younger family members its importance, techniques and basic use.
A first-aid kit is an assortment of medication supplies and equipment essential in giving medical treatment during minor emergencies, and even major ones before medical help can arrive. Items in the first-aid kit can be put together by individuals or organisations, or ready-made kits can be purchased. The primary-aid kits can also be assembled in any kind of container, however ideally in durable plastic packing containers, material pouches or wall-set up cupboards. They should be clean and waterproof to keep the contents safe and aseptic, and should be checked regularly and restocked if any items are damaged or past expiry date.
Plasters or adhesive dressings of different sizes, shapes and types – water-proof or fabric-padded. It is better to leave very minor cuts or grazes open, though, after applying the required ointment.
Non-adhesive dressings or gauze pads, as it is easy to seal the open wounds with them to guard against infections. Gauze pads are the best dressings to have in your first-aid kit for arresting bleeding from small to medium-sized wounds.
Bandages of various sizes and kinds should be included in the first-aid kit – triangular bandages for slings or head wounds, elasticated bandages for wounded joints, and roller bandages for holding dressings in place and for stopping bleeding.
A thermometer, either the mercury or digital kinds, to check body temperature.
A pair of scissors, preferably one with one rounded side for safely cutting dressings while treating burns or scalds without hurting the skin.
Safety pins to hold slings or bandages together.
Disposable gloves to handle open or bleeding wounds to protect your hands as much as the wound from infections.
A list of emergency telephone numbers is a must in your first-aid kit, including those of your family doctor, nearest chemist and hospital, and neighbours.
In your personal first-aid kit, you might find it useful to stock basic medicines like paracetamol, calamine lotion, antihistamines, pain killers, cough syrups and maybe a spoon.
Tweezers to remove splinters of glass or wood.
Cotton wool to clean skin around the wound, but it should not be used to dress up open wounds and the fluff may stick to the wound.
Water-proof adhesive tape, as it can be useful in bandaging areas like the hands, which frequently get wet.
Gel-filled packs which can be warmed up or cooled down. They can be useful for relieving sprains, treating a child with fever, bringing down swellings or cooling superficial burns.
The kit can either be a small box or a cabinet that has all the following contents:
- Bandages like band-aids, crepe bandages and sticking plaster
- Moleskin for blister treatments
- Sterile dressing to apply on the wounds
- Disinfectants to clean the wounds
- Antiseptic ointment or oral tablets
- Pain reliever spray or oral tablets
- Other medicines or pain killers that do not require doctor’s prescription
- Cotton roll
- Cleansing soap/ sanitizerTry to replace the contents of the kit every two to three months. Keep checking the expiry date of the medicines and avoid using contents close to expiry date. Keep the kit at a place that is easily accessible; however, away from the reach of children.
As far as possible, kit should be a white box with a red cross (plus sign) on it, to make it easily recognisable. Common conditions when the first aid kit plays a crucial role:
As mentioned earlier, is usually the quickest and earliest way to treat the victim. Following are the common conditions wherein the first-aid kit can act as a life saviour:
- Breathing problems
- Bleeding – internal / external
- Cardiac emergencies / stroke
- Burns / Cuts / Wounds
- Animal bites / Insect stings / Poisoning
- Dislocation / Sprain / Fractures / Strain
- Sports injuries / injuries due to vehicular accidents
- Fainting / Drowning
- Drug Overdose
First Aid Training
- It is important for a layman to have some professional or technical knowledge about giving first aid.
- In case of schools and colleges, all the teachers and lecturers should be trained for the same.
- It is advisable to keep a small first aid kit in your vehicle. This may help you to save your as well as others’ lives.
- Kit should top your list when you are travelling, especially during adventure camps and trekking. In case of emergency, this kit would help to ease your pain to a great extent. Your guide or leader should be aware about the basic techniques of providing aid in emergency.
Be the first to save life, be the first to give first-aid.