Busting those first aid myths
If someone collapses or is injured, would you know what to do? Myths abound about first-aid care and here St John medical director Tony Smith knocks some of them on the head.
It’s better to do nothing than risk making things worse.
If it is a life or death situation (for example, someone has stopped breathing or their heart has stopped beating) and you do nothing, the person will die.
Often people fear doing something wrong and worry if they do something it could risk making things worse but in reality doing something is far more likely to help the person than to harm them.
Some people choose not to help because they are scared they could be sued if they get it wrong but you can’t be sued in New Zealand for helping someone in an emergency.
Even if you have no first-aid training, you can still call an ambulance and follow the instructions the ambulance call taker will give you.
Learning first aid is easy; St John offers a number of courses. If you have a nose-bleed, you should tilt your head back.
In fact tilting a person’s head back when they have a nose-bleed is unhelpful and just results in the blood going down the back of their throat. Instead, lean forward, pinching the soft part of the nose firmly for 10 to 20 minutes. Call 111 for an ambulance and keep pinching the nose if the bleeding is severe and doesn’t stop after 20 minutes.
The best thing for a burn is butter. Please don’t try and fry the patient. Applying butter was an ‘‘ old wives’ tale’’ before water treatment was discovered.
Unfortunately the tale exists today.
Butter doesn’t cool the burn, can increase risk of infection and is difficult to remove when further treatment is required.
Use cool water to pour on the
still burn (or soak the injured part in cool water). Keep going with the cooling for 20 minutes.
Call 111 for an ambulance if the patient is badly injured, or the burn is causing significant pain, or the burn is larger than the patient’s hand.
Emergency training: Participants in a Mountain Safety course practise rescue techniques.