First aid is 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 includes initial intervention in a serious condition prior to professional medical help being available, such as performing CPR while awaiting an ambulance, as well as the complete treatment of minor conditions, such as applying a plaster to a cut. First aid is generally performed by the layperson, with many people trained in providing basic levels of first aid, and others willing to do so from acquired knowledge.
The key aims of first aid can be summarised in three key points, sometimes known as ‘the three P’s’:
The overriding aim of all medical care which includes first aid, is to save lives and minimize the threat of death.
Prevent further harm:
Prevent further harm also sometimes called prevent the condition from worsening, or danger of further injury, 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.
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.
There are a lot of conditions that require first aid and could happen in the homes, offices, hospital, playgrounds, rigs, flow station etc. Some conditions that require first aid are:
- Altitude sickness, which can begin in susceptible people at altitudes as low as 5,000 feet, can cause potentially fatal swelling of the brain or lungs.
- Anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition in which the airway can become constricted and the patient may go into shock. The reaction can be caused by a systemic allergic reaction to allergens such as insect bites or peanuts. Anaphylaxis is initially treated with injection of epinephrine.
- Battlefield first aid—This protocol refers to treating shrapnel, gunshot wounds, burns, bone fractures, etc. as seen either in the ‘traditional’ battlefield setting or in an area subject to damage by large-scale weaponry, such as a bomb blast.
- Bone fracture, a break in a bone initially treated by stabilizing the fracture with a splint.
- Burns, which can result in damage to tissues and loss of body fluids through the burn site.
- Cardiac Arrest, which will lead to death unless CPR preferably combined with an AED is started within minutes. There is often no time to wait for the emergency services to arrive as 92 percent of people suffering a sudden cardiac arrest die before reaching hospital according to the American Heart Association.
- Choking, blockage of the airway which can quickly result in death due to lack of oxygen if the patient’s trachea is not cleared, for example by the Heimlich Maneuver.
- Cramps in muscles due to lactic acid build up caused either by inadequate oxygenation of muscle or lack of water or salt.
- Diving disorders, drowning or asphyxiation.
- Gender-specific conditions, such as dysmenorrhea and testicular torsion.
- Heart attack, or inadequate blood flow to the blood vessels supplying the heart muscle.
- Heat stroke, also known as sunstroke or hyperthermia, which tends to occur during heavy exercise in high humidity, or with inadequate water, though it may occur spontaneously in some chronically ill persons.
Sunstroke, especially when the victim has been unconscious, often causes major damage to body systems such as brain, kidney, liver, gastric tract. Unconsciousness for more than two hours usually leads to permanent disability. Emergency treatment involves rapid cooling of the patient.
- Hair tourniquet a condition where a hair or other thread becomes tied around a toe or finger tightly enough to cut off blood flow.
- Heat syncope, another stage in the same process as heat stroke, occurs under similar conditions as heat stroke and is not distinguished from the latter by some authorities.
- Heavy bleeding, treated by applying pressure (manually and later with a pressure bandage) to the wound site and elevating the limb if possible.
- Hyperglycemia (diabetic coma) and Hypoglycemia (insulin shock).
- Hypothermia, or Exposure, occurs when a person’s core body temperature falls below 33.7 °C (92.6 °F). First aid for a mildly hypothermic patient includes rewarming, which can be achieved by wrapping the affected person in a blanket, and providing warm drinks, such as soup, and high energy food, such as chocolate. However, rewarming a severely hypothermic person could result in a fatal arrhythmia, an irregular heart rhythm.
- Insect and animal bites and stings.
- Joint dislocation.
- Poisoning, which can occur by injection, inhalation, absorption, or ingestion.
- Seizures, or a malfunction in the electrical activity in the brain. Three types of seizures include a grand mal (which usually features convulsions as well as temporary respiratory abnormalities, change in skin complexion, etc.) and petit mal (which usually features twitching, rapid blinking, and/or fidgeting as well as altered consciousness and temporary respiratory abnormalities).
- Muscle strains and Sprains, a temporary dislocation of a joint that immediately reduces automatically but may result in ligament damage.
- Stroke, a temporary loss of blood supply to the brain.
- Toothache, which can result in severe pain and loss of the tooth but is rarely life-threatening, unless over time the infection spreads into the bone of the jaw and starts osteomyelitis.
- Wounds and bleeding, including lacerations, incisions and abrasions, Gastrointestinal bleeding, avulsions and Sucking chest wounds, treated with an occlusive dressing to let air out but not in.
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