First aid – how to act despite fear?

Reasons You Should NOT Get First Aid Training - First Edition First Aid  Training Inc. Calgary

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is an unpredictable event. However, we can try to learn about the enemy’s strategy so that we can be as prepared as possible for his attack.

Only in 52% of cases, resuscitation is undertaken before the arrival of the ambulance. For comparison, in Norway and the Czech Republic, this number is over 80%. Therefore, it is not surprising that currently in our country the survival rate of cardiac arrest is slightly over 9%. Here you can get the other medical care details.

Therefore, as paramedics from Pomona, because I can, we went to St. Wojciech, to jointly implement and promote the idea of practical first aid. The courses, which, based on the European Resuscitation Council, but above all, small groups per paramedic and a large number of simulations, will allow each person to learn how to react in a life and health emergency not so much without fear, but despite it.

This is how we started our common journey, which has been going on for over a year. We divide our courses into two panels – “for parents and guardians of children” and “for everyone”, ie first aid for adults.

Some of them are:

    • Widely understood fear. People are afraid that they will “do more harm than help,” which is impossible because any help is better than no help. Ignorance is not a problem, inaction is a problem.
    • Fear at the level of legal consequences, i.e. fear of improper first aid. Meanwhile, the law in our country protects the person providing first aid, as stated in Article 162 of the Penal Code. We can conclude from it that it is necessary to provide first aid itself, regardless of its effectiveness. It is punishable to fail to act, and not to take it ineffectively. 
    • There is also no criminal liability for a medically unqualified person if the wrong way of providing help is chosen – an attempt to provide help must be made. The same applies to the health impairment of the rescued person, i.e. the famous fear of breaking the sternum and ribs of the rescued person. There are no legal consequences for this if the action was taken to save a person.
    • Cognitive closure, the famous “I do not want to learn first aid, because if so, I call right away”. You can make such an assumption, but if such a person comes to save another person, which according to statistics will be someone in his household (60-70% of accidents happen at home), then starting from the phone is a rather bad idea that may cost a life.
  • Another barrier, especially in the context of public places, is the phenomenon of dispersion of responsibility. It consists of a decrease in the probability of a reaction of witnesses of a crisis event along with an increase in the number of witnesses of this event. Simply put, the more people who witness the event, the fewer people will be willing to help. Distraction, also known as the diffusion of responsibility, relates directly to the bystander effect in which each witness is convinced that the other person, also the witness to the event, will be helping.

We have created three first aid steps that significantly increase the effectiveness of action, without any medical knowledge.

1) The first step is your safety. The best rescuer is a live rescuer. It is fundamental to make the action more likely to be successful. First, we have to take care of ourselves, look around to see if we can approach the injured person. The point is not to multiply the victims. A good example here is flight attendants who, in the safety instructions given before the flight, always say that the first thing to do is put on the mask, and then the child.

2) The second step is the assessment of the victim’s condition. Conscious / unconscious, breathing / not breathing.

We assess whether our victim reacts and is breathing. In first aid, we do not check the pulse without medical knowledge. If the victim reacts to sound and touch, we can use the SAMPLE interview to find out quickly what has happened and if help is needed. If there is no reaction to sound and touch, we open the airways to check if she is breathing. We watch for 10 seconds.

If there is a shortness of breath or abnormal breathing, the third step is to ask a specific person to call for help or call for help on their own and proceed with CPR immediately.

3) The third step, that is, the proper call for help and rescue operations should take place in parallel, especially if there is a person to help.

If the victim is unconscious and breathing, it is important to put him/her in a side position and check that he/she is still breathing every minute. We repeat this assessment until the arrival of the emergency medical team.

We teach not only the above-mentioned three possibilities (conscious/unconscious breathing/unconscious non-breathing) but many other life-threatening conditions, such as choking in infants, children, and adults, how to deal with anaphylactic shock or first aid in burns and broadly understood injuries. Because first aid is simple to help.