First Aid is a subject which everyone should have at least some idea about. After all, someone close to you, could be the next person to require help in an emergency situation. Here is a list of five common fallacies in First Aid treatment:
1. “If someone is having a seizure I should put something in their mouth and try to hold them still.”
If someone is having a seizure, your aim is to clear the surrounding area of any obstacles which could potentially cause harm to the casualty. Do not put anything in their mouth to stop them from biting their tongue, as this can become a choking hazard. Instead, attempt to cushion the casualty’s head with some sort of soft clothing and note the time that the seizure started. Try to avoid restraining the casualty unless they are moving towards an object or situation which is potentially dangerous e.g. water.
A seizure is caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain. A seizure can be associated with head injury, stroke, meningitis, fever, hypoglycaemia, poisoning or epilepsy. Always call ‘000’ if the casualty is unconscious , pregnant or they have a secondary seizure. If you suspect this is the casualty’s first seizure, call ‘000’. If in doubt, call ‘000’, it’s better to be safe, than sorry.
2. “If someone is choking I should perform the Heimlich maneuver.”
If someone is choking, your aim is to reassure the casualty and encourage coughing. If the casualty has an effective cough, encourage the casualty to support themselves in a bent over position i.e. over a dinner table to allow the object to dislodge through coughing. If this isn’t working and the casualty’s cough is becoming ineffective (it’s becoming more quiet and less forceful), maintain this bent over position and deliver five back blows using the heel of one hand between the shoulder blades. You should check the casualty’s airway after each back blow to see if the object has dislodged. If this doesn’t work, call ‘000’. If the casualty is unconscious, commence CPR.
In Australia and at First Aid GC, we do not teach the Heimlich maneuver due to the lack of scientific evidence behind the technique. There are several reports detailing injuries to the liver, sternum and xiphoid process.
3. “My friend has just sprained their wrist. They should apply heat to the injury.”
If your friend has sprained their wrist, the first thing you must remember is there will most likely be some swelling surrounding the area. Heat will increase the swelling and inflammation. Remember to remove any jewellery from their hands or wrist to prevent them from becoming stuck.
The method to treat a soft tissue injury is R.I.C.E.R:
R = Rest
I = Ice: Reduces the pain and swelling by constricting the blood vessels. Apply for approximately 15 minutes and do not place directly on the skin.
C = Compression: Apply a firm bandage to support the area.
E = Elevate: Raise the wrist above the level of the heart. This slows the blood and reduces the inflammation.
R = Refer. Refer your friend to the doctor in case the injury is more serious than originally suspected.
4. “My nose is bleeding so I should tilt my head backwards to stop the bleed.”
By tilting the head backwards the blood will run down your throat and could cause you to choke or vomit. You should tilt your head forwards while pinching your nose. Try to breath through your mouth and apply a cold pack to your forehead and neck. The nose bleed will take longer to cease in summer or after exercise. If bleeding continues for more than 20 minutes, seek medical assistance.
5. “If someone burns themselves, I should apply mayonnaise, butter or a lotion to the burn.”
If someone burns themselves, simply cool the affected area with running water for as long as possible. Remove any jewellery and clothing which is irritating but not touching the affected area. Cover the burnt area with cling wrap (except if caused by chemicals) and seek medical attention if the pain is not easing. Always seek medical assistance if the burn was caused by chemicals or electricity or is directly affecting a sensitive area of the body.
Do not apply mayonnaise, butter or any lotions to the burn as this can enclose more heat when applied to the skin.