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First Aid: Emergency Medical Treatment Information

Disabled World: Revised/Updated: 2019/03/08

Synopsis: Information regarding first aid and emergency medical help for the sick or injured given before emergency medical help arrives.

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Important Disclaimer: This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, emergency treatment or formal first-aid training. Do NOT use this information to diagnose or develop a treatment plan for a health problem or disease without consulting a qualified health care provider. If you're in a life-threatening or emergency medical situation, seek medical assistance immediately.

First aid is the provision of initial care for an illness or injury. But knowing the correct thing to do if someone has a nosebleed or cut is also important. First aid is defined as the assistance given to any person suffering a sudden illness or injury, with care provided to preserve life, prevent the condition from worsening, and/or promote recovery. It is usually performed by a lay person to a sick or injured casualty until definitive medical treatment can be accessed. It includes initial intervention in a serious condition prior to professional medical help being available, such as performing CPR whilst awaiting an ambulance, as well as the complete treatment of minor conditions, such as applying a plaster to a cut. First aid - the care given before emergency medical help arrives - can literally mean the difference between life and death.

The use of CPR dates all the way back to 1740, yet even today, most many people still don't know how to perform it. Given properly, and immediately, to sudden cardiac arrest victims, CPR can save lives. Up to 150,000 people a year could be given a chance to live if more people knew first aid, says charity St John Ambulance.

  • Less than eight percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside the hospital survive.
  • Nearly 383,000 out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests occur annually, and 88 percent of cardiac arrests occur at home.
  • Statistically speaking, if called on to administer CPR in an emergency, the life you save is likely to be someone at home: a child, a spouse, a parent or a friend.
  • Effective bystander CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim's chance of survival, but only 32 percent of cardiac arrest victims get CPR from a bystander.


Person getting a bandage applied below the knee by another person - Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash.
Person getting a bandage applied below the knee by another person - Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash.

  • The first response to an accident is the most important!
  • Often times, first aid given at the scene can improve the victim's chances of survival and a good recovery.
  • The right response is better than an incorrect quick one.
  • Any response, even if it is wrong, is better than none at all.

Certain self-limiting illnesses or minor injuries may not require further medical care past the first aid intervention. It generally consists of a series of simple and, in some cases, potentially life-saving techniques that an individual can be trained to perform with minimal equipment. The key aims of first aid can be summarized in three key points:

  • Preserve life - The overriding aim of all medical care, including first aid, is to save lives
  • Promote recovery - First aid also involves trying to start the recovery process from the illness or injury, and in some cases might involve completing a treatment, such as in the case of applying a plaster to a small wound.
  • Prevent further harm - Also sometimes called prevent the condition from worsening, this covers both external factors, such as moving a patient away from any cause of harm, and applying first aid techniques to prevent worsening of the condition, such as applying pressure to stop a bleed becoming dangerous.

Much of First Aid is Common Sense

Basic principles, such as knowing to use an adhesive bandage or applying direct pressure on a bleed, are often acquired passively through life experiences. However, to provide effective, life-saving first aid interventions requires instruction and practical training. This is especially true where it relates to potentially fatal illnesses and injuries, such as those that require cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR); these procedures may be invasive, and carry a risk of further injury to the patient and the provider.

Learn First Aid and Save Lives

First aid doesn't take long to learn but can help to save lives.

First aid training is often available through community organizations such as the Red Cross and St. John Ambulance, or through commercial providers, who will train people for a fee.

St John Ambulance believes that everyone should learn at least the basic first aid techniques. You may need to use them at any time at home, at school or work or even while you're traveling. Knowing what to do can make the difference to a person's recovery and you could even save their life.

First Aid Kits

It is important to have a first aid kit available.

Keep one at home and one in your car. It should include a first-aid guide. Read the guide to learn how to use the items, so you are ready in case an emergency happens. It is also advised to be prepared for illness while traveling locally or to a foreign country.



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