Though choking and burns are some of the most frequent first aid emergencies, many people are confused as to the best way to help. Emma Hammett from First Aid for Life has provided a step-by-step guide and video to equip you with the skills and knowledge you’ll need to assist.
Choking is incredibly common and extremely frightening; fortunately, it’s rarely fatal. Choking occurs when an object gets stuck at the back of the throat, blocking or partially obstructing the airway, meaning the casualty is unable to breathe.
Since people who are choking often panic, which rarely improves the situation, it is crucial to act swiftly and competently. Stay calm and encourage the person who is choking to cough and clear the blockage on their own.
If they are unable to cough:
Bend them forward, supporting their chest with one hand ,and use the flat of your other hand to hit them firmly between the shoulder blades. Check to see if the blockage has cleared before giving another blow. If the blockage hasn’t cleared after five blows, the next stage is to try abdominal thrusts/the Heimlich manoeuvre. If the back blows don’t work, get an ambulance on the way
To perform an abdominal thrust: Stand behind them and place one hand in a fist between their tummy button and rib cage. Use the other hand to pull up and under in a ‘J’ shaped motion in order to dislodge the obstruction. Do up to five abdominal thrusts, checking each time to see if the obstruction has cleared. Anyone who has received abdominal thrusts should be seen by a doctor. Never attempt an abdominal thrust on a baby – if you encounter a choking infant, the best manoeuvre to apply is a chest thrust using two fingers.
If the person is still choking, call 999 (or 112) and alternate five back blows and five abdominal thrusts until emergency help arrives. If they become unconscious, start CPR.
The pain and damage caused by burns can be devastating. Knowing what to do immediately can make a massive difference in reducing the amount of pain and scarring experienced and may avoid them having any tissue damage at all.
NB: IMMEDIATELY PLACE THE AFFECTED AREA OF ANY BURN UNDER COOL RUNNING WATER.
Immediately, but extremely carefully, remove loose clothing covering the burn. DO NOT REMOVE ANY CLOTHES STUCK TO THE SKIN.
Put the affected area under cool running water for at least 10 minutes. Remember you are cooling the burn and not the person.
Keep the casualty warm and dry and look out for signs of shock. Phone an ambulance, particularly if a large area is affected or if the skin is broken or blistered. Keep the affected area under cool running water while you are waiting for the ambulance.
A burn is measured using the size of your hand – your palm is roughly equivalent to 1% of an adult body. Therefore, a burn measuring just the size of a 50 pence coin can be very serious for a baby or small child.
If the burn is caused by a chemical, run under cool running water for at least 20 minutes. Read advice on the packaging and see if there are any specific instructions.
Cool the area under a shower for at least 10 minutes or apply repeated cool wet towels for 15 minutes. When completely cooled, apply neat Aloe Vera gel to the affected area, this will soothe, reduce swelling, and promote healing. Give the sunburn victim plenty to drink and, if the burn is severe, seek medical advice.
Burns to the; hands, face, feet, genitals, airways, or a burn that extends all the way around a limb, are particularly serious. Keep the burnt area under cool running water until the paramedic arrives.
It is strongly advised that you attend a Practical First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. First Aid for Life provides this information for guidance; it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnoses made, or actions taken based on this information.
First Aid for Life is an award winning First Aid training business that is HSE and Ofqual Approved through Qualsafe Awards. Our trainers are medical and emergency services professionals, and our training is tailored to your needs. For more information, contact Emma Hammett on 0208 675 4036 or visit www. firstaidforlife.org.uk