Basic First Aid Procedures: Easy Steps Everyone Should Know

Administering first-aid can make a huge difference whether it’s a small burn, a deep cut or a near life-threatening injury. Here are some basic first-aid procedures that everyone should know.

14 Sep 2022

Life is unexpected and preparation is always the best action. The better prepared you are, the better your chances of overcoming a hard situation. Even if you are a spectator to a mishap, your actions make a big difference.


First aid is the first step into supporting a sick or injured person. First aid strives to deliver care to conserve life, prevent the current condition from worsening, and facilitate rapid healing. In some cases, your immediate aid may be the only help a person needs. In others, first aid is a way to stabilise and prevent a person's condition from worsening and keep them alive until they are taken to the hospital.


According to the National Safety Council, USA, 70 per cent of deaths from heart attacks occur before the arrival of paramedics or reaching the hospital. India has 6 per cent of the total global road accidents claiming 132000 lives annually, reveals the Transportation and Logistics, 2022. Basic understanding of first aid can save several lives in case of similar emergencies.


As per Rashtriya Life Saving Society, India, before professional help is available it is important to know the 4 As—Awareness, Assessment, Action, and Aftercare. These can be used to deal with medical emergencies including heart attack, stroke, bleeding, spinal injury, etc. Accidents do happen and are inevitable, but we can take appropriate measures to keep ourselves safe. The best way to practice for these events is to get basic first aid training. For your knowledge, there are some basic life-saving steps that you can learn on your own.


Understanding ABCs of First Aid

If an individual is unconscious, the basic guide of first aid you need to follow is ABC: Airway, Breathing, and Circulation.


  • Airway: If someone’s not breathing, clear their airway.
  • Breathing: If you have cleared a person’s airway but they’re still not breathing, provide rescue breathing.
  • Circulation: As you are doing rescue breathing, perform chest compressions to keep the person’s blood circulating. If the person is breathing but is not responsive, check their pulse. If their heart has stopped, provide chest compressions.


If a person is not awake and not breathing, start rescue breathing and chest compressions.


Related Story: 13 First Aid Essentials You Must have in your Medical Kit


First Aid For Bleeding



In case of bleeding, the first step of first aid is to identify the colour of blood flowing. This can give you an idea of the depth of the injury.

  • Capillaries: Bleeding from the smallest blood vessels looks like a drop and blood usually stops on its own.
  • Veins: Blood that’s a dark red colour is probably coming from the veins. This type of bleeding can range from mild to severe.
  • Arteries: Arteries are the largest blood vessels and if they are injured, bright red blood can be lost very fast with this kind of bleeding.


What to do:

1. First, wash your hands or put on disposable gloves if you have them. Rinse the wound with water.

2. Wrap the injury with a gauze or cloth and apply pressure to stop blood flow and encourage clotting (blood thickens to terminate blood loss).

3. Elevate the bleeding body part above the person’s head if you can. Do not remove the cloth if it becomes soaked. Removing the first layer will interrupt the clotting process and result in more blood loss.

4. Once bleeding has stopped, put a clean bandage on the wound.

Source: Redcross


First Aid For Choking



A choking happens when a person’s windpipe (trachea) gets clogged by food or an object. It is a concerning circumstance that can lead to unconsciousness or even death. Symptoms of choking include, grabbing throat, inability to talk, gasping, panicking and gagging.


What to do:

When a person is choking, using the Heimlich maneuver is the first aid technique. It is the sequence of abdominal jabs or thrusts that can help displace the thing a person is choking on.


1. Stand behind the person, lean them slightly forward and put your arms around their waist.

2. Clutch your fist and position it between their navel and rib cage. Grab your fist with your other hand.

3. Pull your clenched fist sharply backward and upward under the person’s rib cage in 5 quick thrusts.

4. Repeat until the blocked pipe becomes clear and the obstacle comes out.


Note: For someone who is obese or pregnant, execute the thrusts near the chest rather than the abdomen.

If a baby is choking, give chest thrusts with the heel of your hand.


Source: National Health Service


Related story: Heimlich Vs CPR: What to Do When Someone Chokes


First Aid For Burns



First, try to identify the severity of the burn to judge how deep the skin is affected.

  • First-degree burn: This kind of burn impacts only the outer layer of skin (epidermis) and provokes redness and swelling. It is considered a minor burn.
  • Second-degree burn: The burn affects two layers of skin (epidermis and dermis) causing blisters, redness, and swelling. It falls under major burns if it’s more than three inches wide or is on the face, hands, feet, genitals, buttocks, or over a major joint.
  • Third-degree burn: This kind of burn affects deeper layers of skin and causes white or blackened skin that can be numb. It is always considered a major burn.


What to do:

The foremost measure to treat a burn is to control the burning process. It is done by cleaning up chemicals or foreign elements around the affected areas, cooling heat with running water, and covering up or keeping the victim in the shade.


1. Flush the burned area with cool running water for several minutes.

2. Apply a light gauze bandage. If the burn is minor, you can put on an ointment, like aloe vera, before you cover it.

3. Do not break any blisters that form.


Note: Major and severe burns need emergency medical attention.


Source: British Medical Journal


First Aid For A Broken Bone or Fracture



If a person has a fracture or other serious injury in their spinal column, head, hip, pelvis, or thigh do not move the person. Look if the broken bone is poking through the skin, bleeding, swollen joints, or multiple wounds. Any injury to your limbs, hands, and feet needs immediate medical attention.


What to do:

1. Do not try to straighten the bone.

2. For a fractured or broken arm, use a sling and padding to keep it still. If it is the leg, then elevate it.

3. Put a cold pack on the injury—but not directly on the skin. Use a plastic bag to keep ice, wrap it in a cloth then use it on the skin to prevent tissue damage.


Source: Indian Red Cross Society


First Aid For A Sprain



A sprain occurs when there is damage to the connective tissues that hold bones, cartilage, and joints together (ligaments). They usually occur in the ankles and wrists. Look out for any swellings in affected areas, pain while moving limbs, when putting weight on the injured part and show signs of numbness or infection in any part of the body.


What to do:

1. Keep the limb as still as possible.

2. Apply a cold pack.

3. Elevate the injured part if you can do so safely.


Source: Mayo Clinic


Related story: Bring The Heat Or Keep It Cool—The Ultimate Guide To Pain Relief


First Aid For Nosebleeds



Besides nose picking several other factors are responsible for nosebleeds, such as higher altitudes, dry-hot air, blowing the nose too hard, and high blood pressure. These things dry out the membranes in your nostrils, causing them to get crusty and burst when scratched.


What to do:

1. Tilt slightly forward.

2. Pinch your nose just below the bridge. It needs to be high enough that the nostrils are not closed.

3. After five minutes, inspect to see if the bleeding has discontinued. If not, continue pinching and check after another 10 minutes.

4. Use a cold pack to the bridge of your nose while you’re pinching.


Source: StatPearls


First Aid For A Bee Sting



Bee stings can hurt immensely but can be treated with first aid. However, for people who are allergic to bee venom, a sting can be deadly. Thus, why it’s important to always watch for an allergic reaction after a bee sting. Some apparent signs of bee sting are itching, swelling away from the area where it was stung, large red or skin-coloured bumps.


What to do:

1. Get the stinger out immediately by scraping it off with a fingernail. This needs to be done to prevent it from injecting more venom into the person.

2. Clean the affected region with soap and water.

3. Apply a cold pack to help with the swelling at the spot.


Source: Better Health


First Aid For Cardiac Arrest



When a person is in cardiac arrest, doing CPR or using an automated external defibrillator (AED) could save their life. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is one of the most important emergency medical procedures that a person can know.


What to do:

1. You can use hands-only CPR if you don’t have the required training to perform rescue breaths. Start chest compressions on the person with both your hands and push down hard and fast in the centre of the person’s chest.

2. Let their chest come back up naturally between compressions. Keep going until someone with more training arrives.

3. If you’re trained in CPR, you can use chest compressions and rescue breathing.


Related story: Improve Heart Health With This Breathing Exercise


Everyone should learn some basic first aid procedures and know what to do if a medical emergency happens to you, a loved one, or even a stranger. Even without formal training, knowing the ABCs (airway, breathing, and circulation) and how to do CPR helps a lot. Delivering first aid care is often better than doing nothing and acting quickly can save a person’s life.

Source: Apollo Hospitals







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