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.

Kapi-Mana News - - FEATURE -

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.

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