Essential first aid

blog putting theory into practice

Over the summer months we’re spending more time on the roads, at the beaches and generally being extra adventurous. However if things go wrong it’s important to know what to do, so here's a First Aid refresher!

Over the summer months we’re spending more time on the roads, at the beaches and generally being extra adventurous. However if things go wrong it’s important to know, so here’s a First Aid refresher!

There are five main life-threatening events for which we should all be prepared for and be able to give first aid. These are when someone is choking, has severe bleeding, is unconscious and breathing or is unconscious and not breathing. In short, these either affect air going in and out and blood going round and round.

Every year approximately 2000 people will suffer a Cardiac Arrest in NZ of which 1500 will die as a result. This makes it the leading cause of death of adults in NZ, it is normally but not always proceeded by “chest pain / discomfort”, Shortness of Breath, Abnormal or No Breathing, Loss of Colour, Unresponsiveness or Sudden collapse.

Fewer than one in five of us know even the basics of First Aid. Many fear doing harm, but in reality, failure to act is probably doing more harm. It’s important to remember that in the case of Cardiac Arrest the person is effectively dead.

It can be a scary situation pounding on a stranger's chest, and even more of an emotional experience if it’s someone’s you know, but following simple guidelines can make all the difference and potentially save a life.

Let’s cover some essentials.

You are going about your usual business on a normal day, when you here a crash followed by a dull thud, you go to investigate and find a person, lying on the floor. Would you know what to do?

Some key points.

  • As you are giving first aid, remember to talk to the person and not just treat them like a mannequin.

  • Check for causes or surrounding danger, remember you don’t wish to become a secondary patient!

  • Deal initially with what you can see.

  • Giving first aid is about trying to keep someone alive until professional help arrives. For the severe problems listed here, you only have two to four minutes to start your first aid or the person could die.

  • If you think someone needs first aid because they seem to be unconscious, try calling out to them or rubbing the centre of their chest, “Poke, Prod, Pinch” to determine if they are responsive.

  • If there is no response check that they are breathing (placing your cheek or back of your hand in front of their mouth) and feel for a pulse (place two – three fingers on the side of their windpipe below their jaw and press down gently) 10-15 secs will provide the information you need.

If you need to begin CPR the following four steps will guide you through…

Early Access

Organise for Help ASAP, these days with most people having smart phones this is now generally easier than previously. Call for help and Dial 111. Make others aware of the situation in the general vicinity and get them to help.

The 111 call taker will stay with you on the line and guide you through. Position the person on a hard flat surface (the floor is often best), on their back (you may need to move them to achieve this).

Early CPR

Placement – run your hand from the individual’s armpit to the centre of their chest (in line with their chin) this is the correct placement to begin compressions and is the same regardless of age.

For adults use both hands, Children 1 hand, Infants 2 fingers
30 compressions to 2 breaths, no matter who.

Begin CPR - Press down slowly, initially 1/3rd the depth of the individual’s chest (this allows you to adjust your hand placement if required and also “stretches” the chest of the person you’re about to exercise)

Compress !!  (you need to aim for 2 compressions a second that’s 120 p/min) 1/3rd the depth of the person’s chest and keep going until help arrives or someone offers to take over. (humming the tune “Staying Alive” will help keep your speed right, it is normal to feel and hear clicks and graunches whilst doing this)

Respiration 2 breaths every 30 compressions (it is important to note that compressions are the most important component so if you feel unhappy performing mouth to mouth or its not proving effective don’t worry, compress.)

CPR moves oxygenated blood round the body and to the brain, but it won't usually restart the heart. A defibrillator is needed, which some communities have access to in public locations.

Early Defibrillation

AED’s can be found throughout the community, these are simple to use and can be found in most shopping centres, corporations / Banks and government offices may have them available on their premises. You can locate your nearest available unit online by going too  

You can also download their App via iTunes/Android stores which will show you the nearest unit to your current location.

Early Advanced Care

If “Early Access” was achieved then help should be well on its way, and in metropolitan areas, should arrive within 4-10mins (it may initially be your local Fire or Police responding if the ambulance is not available) but an Advanced Paramedic will arrive and initiate their treatment protocol

Severe Bleeding

If someone is bleeding heavily call for help. Apply a dressing (a clean towel will do) put firm pressure on the wound with your palm. If blood comes through the dressing cover with another and increase the pressure. In the case of a limb, if possible, raise the arm or leg, gently, with support, higher than the heart to help reduce blood loss.

Unconscious / Unresponsive

If someone is unconscious and breathing, common causes are overdoses or medical conditions, stay with them and call for help, if there is nothing that concerns you regarding the cause of their unconsciousness. Place them in the recovery position and check their pulse and respiration regularly.

This guide was provided by J.A.M. Event Medical Services Ltd who provide first aid services for public events.

P.O. Box 1760
Shortland Street
Auckland 1010
+6421 703 483



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