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Knowing how to deal with a medical emergency could make the difference between life and death. However, even when someone's life is not in danger, knowing the correct first aid procedure can prevent permanent damage to tissues and help avoid complications. The first rule of first aid is "do no further harm" and to be able to do this you need to be familiar with the correct techniques. There is no real substitute for professional first aid training, but the information given on this page should help you make appropriate decisions in a medical emergency. You should never attempt treatment if you do not feel confident; get help instead. The only exception, of course, is if no help is available; then it's up to you. You will be most effective if you stay calm, so take a deep breath and do what needs to be done. The first section below describes the most important aspects of dealing with emergencies in which a person's life may be at immediate risk.They cover checking for breathing and circulation and describe life ­saving techniques that may be needed, such as rescue breaths if breathing has stopped and cardiopulmonary resuscitation if both breathing AND circulation have stopped. The next section will describe how to deal with serious injuries or situations that could be life ­threatening if not treated, such as severe bleeding and major burns. The final section will cover injuries that are unlikely to be life ­threatening, such as sprains and strains and insect bites, but for which correct treatment is still important.


The ABC of resuscitation is the most important principal of first aid. The "ABC" stands for Airway, Breathing, and Circulation. The ABC of resuscitation is a procedure that enables you to assess whether a victim who has collapsed needs rescue breathing or cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), which are both life­ saving techniques. The airway must be opened, the victim must be checked to establish if breathing is present, and signs such as coughing or movement must be noted to detect whether there is circulation. If breathing has stopped, give rescue breaths at once. If there are no signs of circulation begin CPR immediately. If the victim is unconscious, always follow the ABC sequence before giving any other treatment.
A. airway ­ to open the airway, place one hand on the victim's forehead, and place two fingers of your other hand under the chin. Tilt the head back by pressing down on the forehead while you lift the chin. For an infant, use only one finger to raise the chin.
B. breathing ­ To check for breathing, watch the chest for movement while you listen for breath and feel for breath on your cheek for up to 5 seconds. If breathing is absent, give 2 rescue breaths. (described below)
C. circulation ­ To assess for signs of circulation in an adult, child, or infant, look for signs of normal breathing, coughing, and other movement for 5 ­ 10 seconds. If there are no signs of circulation, you should start CPR (described below)

Rescue breathing is a method of forcing your exhaled air into the lungs of a victim who is not breathing. If breathing has stopped, the person will be unconscious, the chest will not rise or fall, and you will not be able to feel or hear breath. The face may be gray ­blue. If the person is not breathing, you must begin rescue breathing immediately. If there are no signs of circulation, you need to give rescue breathing as well as CPR (described below) In most cases, rescue breathing can be given using the mouth ­to ­mouth technique, but if the victim has a mouth or jaw injury, you may need to use the mouth ­to ­nose method (see RESCUE BREATHING ­ MOUTH INJURIES below)
1. Lay the victim flat on his or her back. If you do not suspect a spinal injury, open the airway using the method described earlier. (In case of a suspected spinal injury see OPENING THE AIRWAY ­ SPINAL INJURY below)
2. Pinch the victims nose closed with your thumb and index finger. Take a deep breath, then place your open mouth tightly around the victims mouth to make a good seal.
3. Blow air into the victims mouth for about 1.5 seconds. Remove your lips, keeping your hands in the same position. Take a breath yourself, then give another 1.5 second breath.
​4. Look at the victims chest. If there is no rise and fall movement, re-tilt the head and try again, checking that you make a good seal around the victims mouth. If you still cannot get air in, look in the mouth and remove any obvious obstruction.
​5. After 5 breaths, check for circulation. If circulation is absent, start CPR (described below) If circulation is present, continue rescue breathing at a rate of 10 breaths per minute. Check for signs of recovery after each minute.

First Aid Skills