First Aid – What Everyone Should Know – Part I


First aid is an essential skill. Everyone must know the basics.
By following certain guidelines and performing simple procedures, some emergencies can be dealt with before the professional medical help arrives.
The key is to remain calm and act quickly.

For all types of bleeding, stopping flow of blood as quickly as possible is the main objective.

  • Small cuts – Usually veins get cut first as they are more superficial than arteries. From smaller cuts, bleeding stops and blood clots within a few minutes. The area should be properly washed and a plaster can be placed on the cut.
  • Deeper cuts – Deeper cuts in the veins brings dark colour blood that seeps out slowly. Gentle pressure on the wound with a clean cloth should be applied, followed by the application of a sterile bandage/plaster.
  • Sometimes these wounds may need sewing and therefore medical advice may be needed after first aid.

  • Arterial bleeding – Bleeding from an artery can cause death within few minutes, hence immediate and urgent first aid is essential. This type of bleeding pulsates and squirts blood in sync with pulse beats. This blood is often a bright red in colour.
  • To stop bleeding from an artery apply hard pressure on the wound with a sterile cloth or your hand, and keep this up until medical help is sought. If possible, position the wounded area should be kept higher than the rest of the body.

  • Nosebleeds – This occur when some of the small blood vessels in the mucous membranes of the nose gets burst. Do not bend the head backwards or lie down, as this increases the blood pressure towards the head and so augments the bleeding.
  • To limit the bleeding pinch the nostrils shut with the index and middle finger for sometime, so that the veins are pressed together to stem the flow blood
    If the person frequently suffers from such sudden, intense nosebleeds, a doctor’s consultation is a must.

Choking is also commonly witnessed and happens when the windpipe gets blocked. This occurs when food gets stuck in the food passage.
A person who is choking usually will be able to only communicate with hand movements, and may place his hand against the throat and his eyes seem to pop out. This indicates he needs immediate help.
Heimlich manoeuvre is the best way to relieve choking.

  • Stand behind the choking person
  • Place your arms around his waist, and bend him well forward
  • Clench your fist and place it right above the person’s belly button
  • Put your other hand on top of the first, then with a hard, upward movement thrust both hands backwards
  • Repeat this until the stuck object in the throat is expelled out


Shock is a state of unconsciousness when too little blood reaches to the brain, making it to receive not enough oxygen which leads to fainting, disorientation and dizziness.
Shock may occur due to,

  • an accident involving loss of blood in huge amount
  • a serious infection (involving loss of fluids like in cases of burn)
  • as part of an allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)

Due to excessive loss of blood in the body, the blood pressure drops and little oxygen circulates through the body.
The person in shock may,

  • go pale; turns sweaty, clammy and cold
  • become dizzy, anxious or restless
  • have a weak, fast pulse; low blood pressure
  • have slow, weak breathing
  • loses consciousness

What you can do

  • Make the person lie on his back, preferably with his feet raised up (to make sure enough blood reaches brain
  • Don’t give him anything to drink or eat because it could run a risk of aspiration
  • If the person vomits or bleeds through mouth, place him on his side to prevent choking
  • Call for an ambulance immediately. A person in shock must always be treated by a doctor or in a hospital.

Above mentioned measures are general guidelines to be used in an emergency.
It is not intended to replace professional medical help.