Just in Case

Basic first aid

If you are old enough to be left alone, you may be responsible for younger family members, or you may have friends over to keep you company. It’s a good idea to have some basic first-aid knowledge, not only for home, but also for emergencies at camp or other excursions, or during sport, or in the event of a motor vehicle accident.
To become properly trained you need to complete a first aid course taught by an accredited trainer. St John recommends that everyone be trained in first aid. If you’d like to receive training, speak to your parents. They may be able to help you enrol in a course. For more information, contact St John on 1300 785 646 or

What should I know so I can help in an emergency?

‘DRS ABCD’ is the easily remembered name of the St John action plan that helps you remember what to do. Each letter stands for something you must do, and the order in which you must do it.
D – Danger
Ensure the area is safe for your, others and the injured person. Don’t move an injured person unless it’s absolutely necessary to get them – or you - away from danger.
R – Response
Check for a response from the injured person. Ask their name. Squeeze their shoulder. Did they respond? If they did, make them comfortable and monitor their response. No response? Call for help immediately (see below)
S – Send for help
Call triple zero (000) for an ambulance, or get someone to make the call for you.

It’s a good idea to have some basic first aid knowledge, not only for home, but also for emergencies at camp or other excursions, or during sport, or in a motor vehicle accident.

A – Airway
Open the injured person’s mouth. Is there foreign material (food, vomit etc) present? If yes, place them in the ‘recovery’ position on their side and clear the airway with your fingers. That means gently scooping out the foreign material with your fingers.

B – Breathing
Check for breathing. Look and feel for breathing by searching for chest movements, or by placing your head close to the injured person’s mouth and listening for the sound of breathing or feeling for their breath on your cheek.
If breathing is apparent, lay the injured person on their side in the recovery position, call 000 for an ambulance and regularly check the person for signs of life.
If they are not breathing, ask someone to call 000 and begin CPR (see below).

Check the injured person for signs of life. Is the injured person breathing, responding or moving? If there are no signs of life start CPR immediately.
If the person is an adult, or a child older than 1 year old, place the heel of your hand over the lower half of the breastbone in the centre of the chest, with the other hand on top of the first.
If the injured person is an infant (1 year old or younger), place two fingers (index and middle finger) over the lower half of the breastbone. Press down 1/3 of the depth of the chest.
Give 30 compressions and two breaths (30:2) to the injured person. You should complete five sets of CPR (five sets of 30:2) in about two minutes. Continue CPR until the ambulance arrives.
Remember - 30 chest compressions: 2 breaths

D – Defibrillator
If a defibrillator is available, apply it and follow the voice prompts.

What should I be careful of while applying first aid?

You should always check, and continue monitoring, that the position you are in is safe. For example, while it’s not recommended you ever move an injured person, if you’re at the scene of a motor vehicle accident and need to perform CPR, it’s important you move the injured person off the road before you begin - otherwise you risk being run over.

Remember, also, that some diseases can be transmitted through blood, so take precautions to help prevent infection. Try to wash your hands with soap before and after administering help, and wear gloves (or place plastic bags over your hands) if possible when managing bleeding. Cover cuts or scratches on your own hands before touching the injured person, to prevent absorption of blood into your own wounds.

Severe bleeding
Even a small injury can result in severe external bleeding, depending on where it is on the body. This can lead to shock. In medical terms, shock means the injured person no longer has enough blood circulating around their body. Shock is a life-threatening medical emergency.

First aid management for severe external bleeding includes:
  • Check for danger before approaching the injured person. Put on a pair of gloves if available
  • If possible, send someone else to call triple zero (000) for an ambulance
  • Lie the person down. If a limb is injured, raise the injured area above the level of the person’s heart if possible
  • Get the person to apply direct pressure to the wound with their hand or hands to stem the blood flow. If the person can’t do it, apply direct pressure yourself
  • You may need to pull the edges of the wound together before applying a dressing or pad. Secure it firmly with a bandage
  • If an object is embedded in the wound, do not remove it. Apply pressure around the object
  • Do not apply a tourniquet
  • If blood saturates the initial dressing, do not remove it. Add fresh padding over the top and secure with a bandage.
  • Minor bleeding
  • Clean the injured area with sterile gauze soaked in normal saline solution or clean water. Do not use cotton wool or any material that will fray or leave fluff in the wound
  • Apply an appropriate dressing such as a band-aid or a non-adhesive dressing, held in place with a hypoallergenic tape. This dressing must be changed regularly
  • See your doctor if you can’t remove the dirt yourself. A dirty wound carries a high risk of infection
  • If you have not had a booster vaccine against tetanus in the last five years, see your doctor.
You should always be careful about the transmission of disease from blood. Certain diseases can be transmitted through blood, so take precautions to prevent infection.

Embedded objects
  • Never try to pull out an embedded object yourself
  • Try and control any bleeding by applying pressure to the surrounding areas - but not on the object itself
  • Put a pad around the object before bandaging, to prevent pressure on the embedded object
  • If the length of the object means it sticks out from the pad, take care to bandage around the sides and call 000 for an ambulance.
Scrapes and grazes
  • Wash thoroughly with running water to remove dirt
  • Cover with a non-stick dressing, then bandage or tape the dressing in place
  • Seek medical aid if anything is embedded in the wound.
  • Clean the area around the splinter with soap and water. If the splinter end protrudes from the skin, grasp the splinter with clean tweezers and remove the splinter. If you can, try to pull it out at the angle it appears to have gone in
  • If the splinter is buried, seek medical advice
  • Apply a sterile adhesive dressing.
Nose bleeds
  • Sit the person upright and ask them to tilt their head forward
  • Using the thumb and forefinger, squeeze their nostrils shut
  • Hold for at least 10 minutes
  • Release the hold gently and check for bleeding. If the bleeding has stopped, advise them to avoid blowing their nose or picking at it for the rest of the day
  • If the bleeding continues beyond 20 minutes, seek medical aid
  • If the nosebleed occurs again, seek medical aid.
Sprains and strains
1.Follow DRS ABCD
2.Follow the RICE management plan:

RICE is the name of the plan that helps you to remember what to do to treat a sprain or strain. Each letter represents the steps to take, and the order you must perform the steps, in treating the injury.

R – Rest
Rest the injured person, and the injured part, in the most comfortable position
I – Ice
Apply an icepack or cold compress wrapped in a wet cloth to the injured area for 15 minutes every two hours for 24 hours, then for 15 minutes every four hours for 24 hours
C – Compression
Firmly apply compression bandages, such as elastic bandages, so that the bandages extend beyond the injured area
E – Elevate
Elevate or raise the injured part.

After performing these steps, seek medical attention. If the pain seems very severe, treat the injury as a fracture.

Burns and scalds

Although most burns and scalds to children occur when they are younger than five years old, older children can be burned or scalded from barbecues and fires. Most can be prevented if you are careful, and if your parents keep and maintain potentially dangerous products and equipment safely.

Much of the information about staying safe is obvious. Just remember the possible results of you ignoring the warnings given by your parents or others. Remember, too, that if you have younger brothers or sisters, they may imitate you – so be careful what you do and how you use and abuse items in front of younger children.

As a reminder:
  • Be careful around barbecues and monitor younger children
  • Use safe fuels such as heat beads on a barbecue, rather than petrol
  • Store inflammable materials in a lockable area, out of the reach of small children
  • Don’t leave matches lying around
  • Don’t leave hot drinks or glasses where toddlers or babies can reach them.
What should I do if someone is burned?

1. Follow DRSABCD.
2. Extinguish burning clothing:
  • Pull patient to ground
  • Wrap in blanket, jacket or similar
  • Roll patient along ground until flames extinguished
  • If a scald, quickly remove patient’s wet clothing from affected area.
3. Hold burnt area under cold running water for 20 minutes.

4. Remove jewellery and clothing from burnt area unless stuck to the burn.

5. Cover burn with a non-stick dressing. If a non-stick dressing is not available, cover with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a wet clean dressing.

6. Seek medical aid.

  • Do not apply lotions, ointment or fat to burns
  • Do not touch injured areas or burst any blisters
  • Do not remove anything sticking to the burn
  • Manage patients for shock if the burn is large or deep.
Seek medical aid urgently if:
  • The burn is deep - even if the patient does not feel any pain
  • A superficial burn is larger than a 20 cent piece
  • The burn involves airway, face, hands or genitals
  • You are unsure of the severity of the burn.
Choking – adults or children more than one year old

1. Encourage adult or child to relax and cough to remove object.
2. Call triple zero (000) if coughing does not remove the blockage, or if patient is an infant.
3. Bend patient well forward and give 5 back blows:
  • With heel of hand between the shoulder blades—checking if obstruction is relieved after each back blow.
4. If unsuccessful, give 5 chest thrusts:
  • Place one hand in the middle of patient’s back for support and heel of other hand in the CPR compression position and give 5 chest thrusts, slower but sharper than compressions.
  • Check if obstruction is relieved after each chest thrust.
5. If blockage does not clear:
  • Continue alternating 5 back blows with 5 chest thrusts until medical aid arrives.
If patient becomes unconscious:
  • Call triple zero (000) for an ambulance,
  • Remove visible obstruction from mouth
  • Begin CPR.
Choking – babies less than one year old

1. Call triple zero (000) for an ambulance

2. Place infant with head downwards on your forearm:
  • Support head and shoulders on your hand
  • Hold infant’s mouth open with your fingers.
3. Give up to 5 back blows:
  • With the heel of one hand to the back between shoulders
  • Checking if the airway obstruction is relieved after each back blow.
4. Turn infant onto back, open mouth and remove any loose foreign material with your little finger.

5. If unsuccessful after 5 back blows, give chest thrusts:
  • Place infant on back on a firm surface
  • Place two fingers in the CPR compression position
  • Give 5 chest thrust - slower but sharper than compressions
  • Check if obstruction has been relieved after each chest thrust.
If infant becomes unconscious:
  • Begin CPR.

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