First aid is the immediate care given to someone in an emergency situation, due to an illness or injury before EMS(Emergency Medical Services) arrives and takes over. Most of the time first aid is provided by a bystander (or by the victim) with minimal or no medical equipment. First aid is usually provided for minor illnesses and injuries. However, first aid may also be provided to someone who has a more serious illness or injury, such as a heart attack or severe bleeding.
Fear of being sued has caused reluctance for bystanders to become rescuers in emergency situations. However, initial rescuers are rarely sued and in most emergencies you are not legally required to provide first aid.
Good Samaritan Law – provides protection against lawsuits for persons who are acting in good faith, while providing reasonable first aid. These laws are not a substitute for competent first aid or for staying within the scope of rescuer training. Laws vary from state to state, and it is important to become aware of your state’s guidelines.
Although laws vary, Good Samaritan protection generally applies when the rescuer is:
Duty to Act – requires an individual to provide first aid when they have a legal duty. If a rescuer does not have a legal duty to provide care he or she is not required to provide first aid.
Duty to act may imply in the following situations:
Personal protective equipment should be used when available, prior to providing care. This equipment is designed to minimize exposure to infectious diseases and bodily fluids.
The Chain of Survival is a common way of describing the order in which rescuers should provide care for a victim of cardiac arrest. Early action can improve the chance of a victim’s survival.
In an emergency situation, the bystander is a vital link between the victim and Emergency Medical Services (EMS). When entering the scene of an emergency situation, it is important to recognize the severity of the emergency before deciding how to respond.
Always remember to check the scene for safety hazards BEFORE providing care, it is important to ensure if you and the victim(s) are in a safe location, free of imminent danger or hazards.
*Agonal breathing is a sign of final stages of life. Agonal breathing is an abnormal pattern of breathing and brain stem reflex characterized by gasping, labored breathing, accompanied by strange vocalizations and/or gurgling. It is a sign that the body is not receiving the oxygen it needs. It occurs when a person is actively dying. If a victim is experiencing agonal breathing CPR must begin immediately.
When providing care to a victim it is important to identify and correct any condition that may not be immediately life threatening, but may have the potential to become life threatening should they not be corrected.
Gather information about victim using the SAMPLE history method. Ask victim about the following information
Medical information tags may identify allergies, medication, or medical condition
Use the DOTS method to check the victim head to toe for the following conditions
*Agonal breathing is an abnormal pattern of breathing and brain stem reflex characterized by gasping, labored breathing, accompanied by strange vocalizations and/or gurgling. It is a sign that the body is not receiving the oxygen it needs. It occurs when a person is actively dying.