Every year thousands of people die or are seriously injured in accidents. Many deaths could be prevented if first aid is given before emergency services arrive.
What to do
If someone is injured you should:
First check that you and the casualty aren't in any danger and if possible make the situation safe. If necessary, dial your countries emergency code for an ambulance when it's safe to do so.
Carry out basic first aid
If a person is unconscious but breathing, and has no other injuries that would stop them being moved, place them in the recovery position until help arrives.
If a person isn't breathing normally after an incident, call an ambulance and start CPR straight away. Use hands-only CPR if you aren't trained to perform rescue breaths.
Below, in alphabetical order, are some of the most common injuries that need emergency treatment and information about how to deal with them:
Anaphylaxis (or anaphylactic shock)
Burns and scalds
Electric shock (domestic)
Anaphylaxis (or anaphylactic shock) is a severe allergic reaction that can occur after an insect sting or after eating certain foods. The adverse reaction can be very fast occurring within seconds or minutes of coming into contact with the substance the person is allergic to. During anaphylactic shock, it may be difficult for the person to breathe, as their tongue and throat may swell, obstructing their airway.
Call for an ambulance immediately if you think someone is experiencing anaphylactic shock.
Check if the person is carrying any medication. Some people who know they have severe allergies may carry an adrenaline self-injector (Epi-pen), which is a type of pre-loaded syringe. You can either help the person administer their medication or if you're trained to do so give it to them yourself.
After the injection, continue to look after the person until medical help arrives. All casualties who have had an intramuscular or subcutaneous (under the skin) injection of adrenaline must be seen and medically checked by a healthcare professional as soon as possible after the injection has been given.
Make sure they're comfortable and can breathe as best they can while waiting for medical help to arrive. If they're conscious, sitting upright is normally the best position for them.
If someone is bleeding heavily, the main aim is to prevent further blood loss and minimise the effects of shock.
Firstly call for an ambulance as soon as possible. If you have disposable gloves use them to reduce the risk of any infection being passed on. Check that there's nothing embedded in the wound. If there is, take care not to press down on the object.
Instead, press firmly on either side of the object and build up padding around it before bandaging, to avoid putting pressure on the object itself.
If nothing is embedded apply and maintain pressure to the wound with your gloved hand, using a clean pad or dressing if possible; continue to apply pressure until the bleeding stops. Use a clean dressing to bandage the wound firmly if bleeding continues through the pad, apply pressure to the wound until the bleeding stops and then apply another pad over the top and bandage it in place; don't remove the original pad or dressing, but continue to check that the bleeding has stopped.
If a body part, such as a finger has been severed place it in a plastic bag or wrap it in cling film and make sure it goes with the casualty to hospital.
Always seek medical help for bleeding unless it's minor.
If someone has a nosebleed that hasn't stopped after 20 minutes, go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department.
Burns and scalds
If someone has a mild burn or scald: cool the burn as quickly as possible with cool running water for at least 10 minutes, or until the pain is relieved. Carefully remove any clothing or jewellery, unless it's attached to the skin
If you're cooling a large burnt area, particularly in babies, children and elderly people, be aware that it may cause hypothermia (it may be necessary to stop cooling the burn to avoid hypothermia). Cover the burn loosely with cling film; if cling film isn't available, use a clean, dry dressing or non-fluffy material; don't wrap the burn tightly, because swelling may lead to further injury. Don't apply creams, lotions or sprays to the burn. Always see a doctor/call an ambulance for burns in children, just to get them checked over.
For chemical burns, wear protective gloves, remove any affected clothing, and rinse the burn with cool running water for at least 20 minutes to wash out the chemical. Call an ambulance for immediate medical help.
The information below is for choking in adults and children over one year old.
If the airway is only partly blocked, the person will usually be able to speak, cry, cough or breathe. In situations like this a person will usually be able to clear the blockage themselves.
If choking is mild encourage the person to cough to try to clear the blockage, ask them to try to spit out the object if it’s in their mouth. Don't put your fingers in their mouth to help them as it could push the object further down. If coughing doesn’t work, start back blows.
If choking is severe, the person won’t be able to speak, cry, cough or breathe, and without help they’ll eventually become unconscious.
To help an adult or child over one year old:
Stand behind the person and slightly to one side. Support their chest with one hand. Lean the person forward so that the object blocking their airway will come out of their mouth, rather than moving further down.
Give up to five sharp blows between the person’s shoulder blades with the heel of your hand (the heel is between the palm of your hand and your wrist).
Check if the blockage has cleared.
If not, give up to five abdominal thrusts (see below).
Abdominal thrusts shouldn't be used on babies under one year old, pregnant women or obese people.
To perform abdominal thrusts on a person who is severely choking and isn’t in one of the above groups:
Stand behind the person who is choking.
Place your arms around their waist and bend them well forward.
Clench one fist and place it just above the person's belly button.
Place your other hand on top of your fist and pull sharply inwards and upwards.