Dealing with Emergencies 101

A basic knowledge of first aid and a first aid kit will prepare you for most common emergency situations. Photo: Pixabay

Simple techniques can help save a person’s life in an emergency situation.

Be prepared, with the following advice from ER24, for dealing with a person who has fainted, burned or cut him-/ herself, chokes, or ingests poison.

  • What should I do if someone faints?

A representation of someone placed in the recovery position. Photo: Pixabay

Try to prevent him/ her from getting hurt when falling. Put the patient in the recovery position on a bed or the floor. Bend the arm nearest you at a right angle to the person’s body with the hand upwards. Tuck the other hand under the side of the head so that the back of the hand is touching the cheek. Bend the knee farthest from you to a right angle and carefully roll the person onto his/ her side by pulling on the bent knee. The top arm should be supporting the head and the bottom arm will stop you rolling the person too far. He or she should wake up within a few seconds. If it doesn’t look like a normal fainting spell or the person appears seriously ill, call an ambulance immediately.

  • I’ve burnt my hand on the stove; what now?

First aid is the most important first step. Keep your hand under clean, cool running water for 15 to 20 minutes even if there is no blistering. This will prevent further damage to the deep skin sections that cause scarring and other complications. If there are many blisters or you are experiencing unbearable pain, you should consider going to the hospital for further assessment. Don’t use ice or frozen peas directly onto a burn because the freezing is harmful to the skin.

  • How do I help someone who appears to be choking?

A representation of the Heimlich manoeuvre. Photo: Pixabay

If the person is coughing or is able to speak, let him or her settle down without interfering. Take him/ her to the nearest doctor or hospital if the problem persists. If he/ she can’t speak because of an obstructed airway or shows signs that they are choking, then you can attempt the Heimlich manoeuvre on an adult or backslaps and chest thrusts on a small child. This procedure is taught in basic life support and first-aid courses and it’s advisable to do this training if you want to be able to help someone who may choke one day.

  • How deep should a cut be before I seek treatment?

Even minor cuts can become infected. Clean them with a lot of tap water and ensure that your tetanus vaccinations are up to date (every five to 10 years). If the wound is gaping, even a little bit, or won’t stop bleeding after three minutes of direct pressure, then you should seek medical advice. Take special care with wounds on the face (these have cosmetic implications) and hands in case of nerve, tendon or vessel damage.

  • If I suspect a child has ingested a poisonous substance, how should I react?

Stay calm. Call a poison advice service such as the Red Cross Children’s Hospital on 021 689 5227 immediately. Don’t induce vomiting or give the patient anything to drink before consulting with a health care provider. You can take the child to the nearest emergency centre for an examination and further treatment if he/ she looks ill or if you’ve been instructed to do so by the poison advice line. Take the container along to help identify the suspected poisonous substance. If the child is unconscious, or behaving unusually, and breathing is irregular, rather call an ambulance to stabilise the patient before going to the hospital.

Do you perhaps have more information pertaining to this story? Email us at  (remember to include your contact details) or phone us on 011 955 1130.

For free daily local news on the West Rand, also visit our sister newspaper websites 

Roodepoort Record

Randfontein Herald

Krugersdorp News 

Get It Joburg West Magazine

Amy Ingram

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