05.Basic first aid
The first, very basic steps
The best way to learn first aid is to attend an accredited course. In an emergency, you probably won’t have the time to read instructions thoroughly. First aid courses are available in every state — contact an organisation such as the Australian Red Cross or St John Ambulance Australia. If they don’t run a course that’s convenient for you, they should be able to tell you who does.
Summarised below are some very basic steps you can follow in an emergency while waiting for an ambulance. It’s based on information provided by St John Ambulance Australia.
- Don’t touch the burn, don’t apply anything to it, and don’t try to remove anything that sticks to it.
- Remove jewellery or clothing unless it’s stuck to the burn.
- Cool the burnt area with running cold water for at least 20 minutes (or with hydrogel if no cool water is available).
- Cover the burn with a sterile, non-adherent dressing.
- Seek medical aid if the burn is larger than a 20 cent piece or involves the face, hands, feet or genitals.
- Remove or cut clothing to expose the wound.
- Apply pressure (with a pressure pad, or your gloved hands, if the casualty can’t do it).
- Squeeze the wound edges together.
- Raise and support the injured part.
- Bandage the wound and, if it still bleeds, apply a second pressure pad.
- Check circulation below the wound.
- If severe bleeding persists, give nothing to the casualty by mouth and call 000 for an ambulance.
Signs/symptoms can include pain at the injury site, difficulty moving, tenderness and swelling, discolouration and bruising.
- Control bleeding and cover the wound.
- Ask the casualty not to move the injured part.
- Apply a broad bandage to immobilise the fracture.
- Support the limb by placing a splint along it.
- Don’t touch the eye (or let the casualty rub their own eye).
- Don’t try to remove an object that’s embedded in or protruding from the eye.
- If tears don’t remove the object, flush the eye with cool, flowing water.
- If not successful, place a sterile dressing over the eye, but don’t apply pressure when bandaging it.
- Seek medical aid.
Snake or funnel web/mouse spider bite to limb
- Apply a very firm roller bandage, starting just above the fingers or toes and moving up the limb as far as possible.
- Splint the bandaged limb.
- Make sure the casualty doesn’t move.
- Call 000 for an ambulance.
- Write down the time of the bite and when the bandage was applied, and stay with the casualty.
Redback spider bite
- Apply an ice pack.
- Seek medical aid.