First Aid Defined
First Aid is defined as the initial and immediate assistance provided to someone who is ill or injured, before professional medical help being provided. First aid is a worldwide skill, so there are other definitions of first aid, but in principle, they all mean and imply the same thing.
Aim of First Aid
The aim of first aid is the 3 P’s – Preserve, Prevent and Promote.
Preserve – Preserving someone’s life by placing them in the recovery position.
Prevent – Prevent further injury or the condition from worsening, such as rapidly cooling a severe and recent burn wound
Promote – Promoting recovery by performing effective CPR as the patient may respond and wake up or survive with no long-term complications.
Accidents (knocking your head and becoming unconscious) and emergencies (heart condition like a heart attack) can occur unexpectedly and at any time and the sooner emergency care or healthcare can be administered the better.
However, it is unrealistic and impossible to have first aiders, paramedics, nurses, doctors, or the emergency medical service on standby outside every workplace or home, waiting for an emergency to occur. First aid is a skill that can be provided and applied in the workplace among work colleagues, or within the home or personal environment between friends and family. First aid is therefore part of the whole healthcare system, even if it is basic first aid or basic care, this assistance can save someone’s life.
Four reasons why first aid is important
First aid is a critically important skill that must be applied as it is a proven fact that first aid can prevent an emergency or medical condition from worsening. Listed below are some of the reasons why first aid is important:
- Quick immediate care – First aiders are generally immediately available to render care and keep someone alive until professional help arrives. Also making sure that the emergency service are called quickly when needed, is a vitally important first aid function;
- CPR – During CPR first aid is the skill that keep circulation and blood flow going and the rescue breathing in CPR , keeps the blood oxygenated which keeps the cells of the brain and parts of the body alive;
- Recognizing immediate care needed – One of the critical steps of first aid is to have the ability to recognize emergency first aid care conditions that require immediate attention, such as trying and stop bleeding. By applying simple direct pressure to a bleeding wound, the patient’s life saving bodily fluids (blood) are retained / not lost and their condition may stabilize, or not get any worse;
- Scene control – A good first aider is also able to assist in managing an entire scene and provide some additional advice and control, often preventing others from also being injured or just calming the patient down (reducing their heart rate), which is often very importante.
7 most important first aid skills
These BLS or basic life support skills or actions listed below are some of the most important skills a first aider can perform and may well assist in saving someone’s life:
- CPR – Performing effective CPR and providing good chest compressions and rescue breathing, to keep oxygenated blood flowing;
- AED – Finding an Automated External Defibrillator and shocking a patient in cardiac arrest to bring back their heart beat;
- 10177 / 112 / 082-911/ 084-124 – Calling the emergency services, paramedics or ambulance as soon as possible to ensure that help is on the way;
- Lateral recovery position – Placing an unconscious patient / loss of consciousness into the lateral recovery position can keep their airway open so that they are able to breath and fluid can passively drain out their mouth and throat and not into their lungs;
- Stop bleeding – By using a first aid kit bandage or even a towel to provide direct pressure on a bleeding wound will slow or stop bleeding. Blood is a precious fluid (and in short supply) which we all need in order to survive.
- First aid equipment availability – There must be adequate first aid equipment available at home and at work for use such as a fully stocked first aid kit, first aid room or facility at work where a casualty could be treated in private;
- Keeping general first aid knowledge current – It is important to ensure that your first aid certificate is always valid and thereby your general first aid knowledge will be current. This will ensure that the first aiders is able to manage emergency conditions such as the recognizing signs of shock, how to treat an allergic reaction from an insect sting (or having eaten something) or hyper and hypothermia etc.
Levels of first aid
There are three different first aid levels available within South Africa and part of the national qualifications framework (NQF), which is now part of government regulation and have different NQF levels namely NQF level 1, 2, and 3. They are however very similar in content and each contains good general first aid knowledge and content.
Absolute Health Service is accredited to offer all three NQF first aid courses. It is now law and a regulation requirement that first aid training may only be conducted by an accredited training company which is called a skills development provider, whose courses are the three NQF approved courses. We can present the first aid courses at your premises anywhere in the country as long as you have 8 a minimum of 8 delegates, or at one of our training venues situated in Johannesburg North, Durban, Port Elizabeth, or Cape Town.