When working or playing in any environment, accidents or injuries usually occur, hence, the need for first aid treatment.


First Aid: Meaning and Materials

First aid is the immediate and temporary care given to a victim of an accident, sudden illness or minor injury.

It is the emergency care given toa victim or an injured person by a non-expert or sometimes by an expert, until a specialised medical treatment is available.

The basic materials for first aid are:

  1. First aid box: This is a box that contains all the items and instrument used in giving first aid treatment. It can be owned by an Individual or Organisation. The international organisation for standardisation (ISO) sets a Standard for first aid box of being green, with a white cross or being white with a green cross for easy recognition by everyone.
  2. Adhesive bandage (plaster): It is also called a sticking plaster. It is a small dressing used for injuries not serious enough to require a full size bandage.
  3. Antiseptic cream or lotion: It is used for reducing the risk of infection in abrasion or around wounds. Dirty wounds must be cleaned for the antiseptic to be effective.
  4. Cotton wool: A white material used in cleaning cuts and wounds.
  5. Pain reliever: This is a drug that helps to suppress or reduce pains and aches e.g. paracetamol and panadol.
  6. Scissors: It is used for cutting during first aid.
  7. Disposable gloves: It is worn by the first aider to prevent cross infection.
  8. Iodine: It is applied to wounds to stop bleeding.
  9. Thermometer: It is used for checking the body temperature.
  10. Safety pin: It is used to secure the bandage.


Application of Simple First Aid

First aid when given in due course helps to save lives. The conditions that may require first aid include: high fever, bleeding, fainting, bruises, burns, heat and exhaustion. A victim of the following conditions can be treated or revived by applying the necessary first aid:

  1. High fever: It can be treated by removing the person’s clothing and using a wet towel on the forehead or the body, to cool down the temperature of the body. The person can also be given plenty of cool drinks to replace fluid lost through sweating and the recommended dose of a pain reliever.
  2. Bleeding: Bleeding on the leg can be stopped by applying a firm pressure over the wound using a sterile or clean pad or cloth. Tightly wrap bandage round the wound and raise the injured part above the head level to reduce blood flow to the area. Help the person to lie down before the arrival of a doctor.
  3. Burns: The affected area can be exposed to some cool (not cold) water, until the patient ceases to feel pain. A moist towel can also be used. Remove any tight object around the affected area to prevent swelling and apply an antibiotic ointment to the affected area.


Aims or Purpose of First Aid

The main aims of first aid can be to:

  1. Preserve life: All medical care, including first aid are given to save lives and minimise death.
  2. Prevent further harm, danger or injury: This include moving the victim away from any cause of harm and applying first aid techniques to prevent worsening of the condition.
  3. Promote recovery: It involves trying to start the recovery process from illness or injury. In some cases, it might involve completing a treatment, such as applying a plaster to a small wound.

Other conditions requiring first aid are: altitude sickness, bone fracture, cardiac arrest, choking, childbirth cramps, diving disorders and heavy bleeding.


ABC of First Aid

First aid requires the rapid assessment of a victim to determine whether life-threatening conditions exist. The method (protocol) for evaluating a victim’s condition is known as ABC, which stands for Airway, Breathing and Circulation. These are the essential steps or techniques used by both medical professionals and trained persons (such as a first aider) when dealing with a patient. The ABC techniques are vital for life and each is required, in that order, for the next to be effective.

Airway: It is an open and unobstructed attention which must first be brought to the victim’s airway to ensure that it is clear and not blocked.

Breathing: It is important to look, listen and feel whether the victim is breathing properly or not, in order to provide rescue breathing if necessary.

Circulation: To check whether there is a pulse (i.e. that the victim has a pulse) and to perform chest compressions to support circulation.


Application of ABC of First Aid

The basic application of the ABC principle is in first aid. It can be used in cases of unconscious patients.

The following steps should be considered:

Step A: Check to make sure that the patient’s airway is open.

Step B: Check to make sure that the patient is breathing.

Step C: Make sure that the patient has a pulse.

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