Almost everyone will be involved in a crisis at some point in their lives. Someone falls and can’t get up. Someone cuts themselves and can’t stop bleeding. Another person's heart fails. Wars, natural disasters, terrorist actions, plus all the day-to-day risks of car accidents, falling, ingestion of dangerous substances, among other possibilities, add up to a certainty any given individual will witness and maybe assist in first aid. Knowing what to do in these situations can be the difference between someone living or dying, between a temporary or permanent disability. First aid training is available at a number of institutions and is available to just about anyone.
It takes the brain six minutes to die once oxygen is cut off. It can take a person as little as five minutes to bleed to death. Bones that are not set, may never hold weight. Cuts that are not cleaned can become infected. In the minutes after a trauma, how the body is treated can make a world of difference to the outcome, and time is of the essence.
ABC's of First Aid
First aid addresses three critical issues: Airway, making sure that the person can breathe; Blood, making sure the person is not going to bleed to death; Cardio, making sure the person’s heart is beating. Beyond that first aid is about making sure no more damage is done and making the victim as comfortable as possible. First aid might be as simple as putting alcohol and a bandage on a scrape, immobilizing bones so surrounding tissue isn’t damaged, or it might be as intense as restoring breathing and heart beat. First aid can also be psychological, aiding people who are so traumatized that they may not be functional, and they need support and guidance to move forward and make safe decisions.
Red Cross Training
The American Red Cross was founded in 1881 by a woman named Clara Barton, a teacher and nurse during the Civil War. She helped gather supplies for injured soldiers, which led to the Red Cross. The organization's mission is disaster preparedness and it helps communities all over the world in crisis. Here in the United States, there are 700 chapters, most of which offer basic first aid training as part of their mission. First aid training is also available through many community centers and hospitals.
Wilderness First Aid
Hiking, cross country skiing and other activities take place far from the immediate aid of any emergency response team. Sometimes a person can hike out of the wilderness if an immediate injury receives some care, other times it is imperative to not move a victim without professional help, but he still needs stabilization in the field. Receiving wilderness first aid training is about preparation for extreme situations.
Pet First Aid
Even pets have their bad days. They are just as prone to falling or getting hit by a moving object as we are. They are more prone to ingesting poisons and getting into fights. Perhaps their damage is minor and can be handled by someone who knows pet first aid. Or they may require veterinary care, but still need to be stabilized in the immediate short-term. The principles are the same ABC, stabilize, remove them from a dangerous environment and get help if necessary.