5 Key Principles of First Aid


5 Key Principles of First Aid

The first basic step in any emergency situation is the recognition of the problem and thereafter providing the necessary help. With training, a good first aider can perform a lot of activities in order to save lives or in some other emergency deliver basic first aid before the arrival of paramedics.

In this article, you should be able to know the 5 key principles of first aid.

What is first aid?

First aid refers to the emergency or immediate care you should provide when a person is injured or ill until full medical treatment is available. For minor conditions, first aid care may be enough. 

Also First aid is the first and immediate assistance given to any person suffering from either a minor or serious illness or injury, with care provided to preserve life, prevent the condition from worsening, or to promote recovery. 

For serious problems, first aid care should be continued until more advanced care becomes available. The decision to act appropriately with first aid can mean the difference between life and death. Begin by introducing yourself to the injured or ill person. 

Explain that you are a first aid provider and are willing to help. The person must give you permission to help them; do not touch them until they agree to be helped. If you encounter a confused person or someone who is critically injured or ill, you can assume that they would want you to help them. This is known as “implied consent. 

General Principle of First Aid

5 Key Principles of First Aid

There is no rule of thumb procedure in first aid, just certain basic principles which must be learnt and adapted with compassion and understanding to each occasion.

This includes the following:

1. Assessment of the situation

2. Provision of urgent care

3. Examination of the casualty for injuries.

4. Treatment of the casualty's injuries

5. Call of a physician for assistance


1. Assessment of the Situations: On hearing about an accident or noticing an accident, the first aider should make his way to the patient, avoiding panic and nervous actions. On arrival, he should be calm and take charge as well as ensure the safety of the casualty and himself.

He should guard against any further casualties arising and give the casualty confidence: talk to him, listen to him, reassure him and seek permission to attend to him. The permission may be gotten directly from the casualty, his relatives or his friends but there are occasions when such formality is not necessary, in which case, justify the swift action.

In diagnosing the situation the first aider should be guided by:

a. History, which is a report given by the conscious casualty, or by persons present, as to how the accident happened or Illness began

b. Symptoms, which are the details given by a conscious Casualty of his sensations

c. Signs which are obtained by a complete examination of the Casualty by the first aider using all his/her sense to obtain maximum information.

The first aider may require the assistance of others consequently, bystanders should be fully utilized in such tasks as:

(a) Assisting to control traffic

(b) Keeping back the crowd

(c) Assisting with the actual treatment, if necessary

(d) Make calls to the ambulance, police and other emergency services (e.g. fire/ rescue service).

The first aider should make sure that the bystander understands the message he is being sent and demand feedback from him.


2. Provision of Urgent Care:  Certain medical emergencies require immediate care to save the victim's life. Such life-threatening emergencies to be given priority attention are: If the casualty a. has stopped breathing b. is bleeding profusely. A delay of a few minutes can be fatal in these cases. 

In their order of needs, the first aider can save lives by implementing the 'ABC' rule. The ABC of first aid is the basic things that the first aider needs to check when he/she come to a casualty. These are:

A - Airway opening

B - Breathing restoration

C - Circulation enhancement. Before anything, ensure that the airway is clear, check to see if the casualty is still breathing and also check for circulation (i.e pulse or observation of colour and temperature of hands/fingers).

The airway consists of the nose, mouth, and upper throat. These passages must remain open in order for the casualty to breathe. The body's failure to circulate blood properly may lead to shock.

The first aider should swift into restoring breathing (artificial ventilation) controlling bleeding, treating shock, and treatment for poison.


3. Examination of the Casualty for Injuries: The first aider should quickly:

a. Analyse the situation

b. Diagnose what is wrong with the casualty

c. Decide whether or not to treat the victim.

He should examine the casualty for injuries only after treating him for any life-threatening emergencies then the individual injuries or illness should be treated.


4. Treatment of the Casualty: If the first aider is confused or not sure of himself, he should not attempt to give treatment. In many cases, the wrong treatment causes more harm than no treatment at all. If he decides to treat the victim, he should swing into action immediately.

The treatment should continue until the casualty is handed over to the care of:

a. A doctor

b. A nurse

c. An appropriate person, who provides professional medical help.

Part of the first aid involves reassuring a victim, relieving his pain, and moving him, if necessary, to a clinic, or home, or the casualty returns to work depending on the seriousness of the condition. 

Therefore, action must be modified according to the circumstances surrounding the incident, recognizing that every accident is different and every injured human being responds differently to injury or illness.

In some circumstances, it becomes necessary to remove the clothing of the casualty in order to expose injuries, make an accurate diagnosis and render proper treatment.

In carrying out such a procedure, clothing should not be damaged unnecessarily and the removal should be effected with minimum disturbance to the casualty or hurting the injured parts.

Clothing should be removed in the following manner.

a. Coat: The casualty should be raised and the coat slipped over his shoulders, and then the sound side not injured should be removed first, if necessary, the seam of the sleeve on the injured side should be slit up (cut open).

b. Shirt and Vest: Removal should follow the procedure for a coat. If necessary, the vest should be slit down.

c. Trousers: Trousers should be pulled down from the waist or the trousers' leg should be raised as required. If necessary, the seam should be slit up. The first aider should avoid pulling on the victim’s belt to avoid pressure that could further damage an injured spine

d. Boot or shoe: The ankle should be supported while unlacing or the lace should be cut and removed

e. Socks: If it is difficult to remove, two fingers should be inserted between sock and leg, and the edge of the sock raised and cut between the fingers.

In order to prevent the condition from deteriorating:

a. Wounds should be dressed and cleaned.

b. Large wounds and fractures should be immobilized.

c. Casualty should be placed in the correct and most comfortable position consistent with the requirements of treatment.

d. Attempt must never be made to move a casualty who may have a broken bone, internal injuries, or damage to the neck or spine, unless absolutely necessary.

e. Never pour a liquid into the mouth of an unconscious victim.

f. Never give food or liquid to a victim who may require surgery

g. If a casualty is lying down, he should be kept in that position and not be allowed to get up and walk about.

h. If the casualty is unconscious, his/her head should be turned to one side to help prevent him/her from choking on blood, saliva, or vomit.

In order to promote recovery:

a. The casualty should be relieved of anxiety and his confidence built

b. His pain and discomfort should also be relieved

c. He should be protected from cold.

However, the amount of treatment which can be undertaken at the scene of the accident depends largely on circumstances and the facilities and supplies available. Every case, however, must be considered on its own merits.

In case of multiple casualties and injuries, the first aider must make a quick survey of all the casualties and injuries and decide on the order of treatment of the “ABC” rule mostly applies. It should be noted that the loudest casualty is rarely the most severely injured.

In case of being confronted by a sudden illness, the first aider should be able to recognize the illness and rapidly decide whether it is beyond the scope of the first aider.

In all such cases, and if in any doubt, the casualty should be referred to a medical professional for expert aid.


Read On: What are the therapeutic Modalities for Rehabilitation?

Call for Experts Assistance

After treatment has been given, the casualty may be:

a. Taken into a nearby shelter to wait for the arrival of an ambulance

b. Sent to hospital or clinic by ambulance, car, stretchers, and hand Seats and the like

c. Handed over to the care of a doctor, nurse or other responsible person.

Someone else should phone or be sent to call such an officer, an ambulance, or other help while the first aider continues to attend to the casualty.

If the first aider is alone with the victim, he must decide the appropriate time to safely leave the victim to call for assistance. This must be after treating all life-threatening conditions.

The message is often dictated to a bystander who may convey it in person or through the phone. When calling for help, a proper description of the nature of the casualty illness or injury, the first aid measures that have been taken, and the exact location of the casualty must be given.

The first aider should be prepared to take down any instruction given by the physician and such instructions must be well understood, other clarifications must be sought. If the victim is to be taken to a hospital emergency room, the hospital staff must be pre-informed through phone so that they could prepare grounds to receive the victim.

If the injury or illness is minor, the casualty may be allowed to return to work or go home and should be instructed to seek medical advice, if necessary. It should be stressed that:

a. A casualty must not be sent home if he has been unconscious, even if only for a short period, or if he is badly shocked.

b. A message explaining the circumstances and treatment given should accompany the casualty when he is sent to the hospital. If necessary the first aider should accompany the casualty and make a personal report.

c. The first aider should make sure that the casualty's supervisor, nearest relative and any other appropriate person or organization is informed.

d. In serious outdoor accidents, the police should always be sent for or notified.

In this circumstance, one should endeavor not to remove any evidence that might help to throw light on the cause and extent of the accident.


Conclusion on 5 Key Principles of First Aid

Basic Principles of First aid is the safe response to emergencies for the benefit of casualties, bystanders and other first aiders. It is also very important to secure the emergency site in order to reduce further harm to the casualty. There is no rule of thumb procedure in first aid, just certain basic principles which must be learnt and adapted with compassion and understanding to each occasion.

This includes the following:

1. Assessment of the situation

2. Provision of urgent care

3. Examination of the casualty for injuries.

4. Treatment of the casualty's injuries

5. Call of a physician for assistance

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