What you should do at the scene of a serious medical emergency:
1. Remain calm and think before you act;
2. Call for more help first before you even think about treating the casualty;
3. Make sure it is safe for you to approach the casualty; and
4. Follow your first aid training, or click here to learn what the NHS recommend you do.
Click here for the list of current qualified first aiders.
Everyone present should endeavour to remain calm and quiet. It will make it easier for everyone to make the correct decisions under the unusually stressful conditions that exist in all such incidents. Remaining calm will also serve to reassure the casualties who may already be in danger of slipping into life-threatening shock from their injuries. The last thing casualties need is a group of panicking, noisy people milling around them.
If you are alone, your first action should be to find more help. If this means temporarily leaving the scene of the accident to find that help, then so be it. Attending to the needs of the casualty is secondary to ensuring you have raised the alarm and are confident additional help is now on its way.
If there is more than one of you present, you should first nominate one person amongst you to call the emergency services on 999 or 112. That person should assess the likely number of casualties and the nature of the medical emergency so they can accurately relay the details of the situation to the emergency operator … So they in turn, can alert the correct emergency services and deploy the appropriate level of resources to attend the incident.
Once the question of summoning help has been dealt with, the remaining people can turn their attention to treating the casualty or casualties.
Dangers that could typically exist include the casualty may:
Once you have established it is safe to approach and attend to the casualty, you may face the thorny question of whether you should relocate to a safer place. Although it is best to avoid moving the casualty to avoid complicating existing fractures and internal injuries, if remaining in the current location represents a real threat to continuing safety … you may have no choice other than to move to a safer place.
Click here to be taken through to the NHS guidance on applying first aid.
Qualified or not, it is only natural to worry about the consequences of attempting to render first aid and end up causing more harm than good.
The most informative treatise on the legal aspects of administrating first aid can be read here.
The problem of whether one should, or should not, start administering first aid is one of those areas in law where no precedents exist. There are plenty of untested speculation on how the law might be applied to various situations, but at the end of the day it always comes back to a question of personal integrity and conscience. One cannot avoid concluding it would be easier to live with the consequences of having tried and failed to help someone, rather than live with the knowledge you were too afraid to try at all.
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