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First Aid Basics Guide

By HWResLife 29 Aug 2020

Would you know what to do if you found your roommate unconscious? How about if your friend started choking over dinner?

Brushing up on your First Aid Skills means you're far more likely to know what to do when someone's in danger - and possibly save their lives. The situations below occur more often than you'd think, so be prepared with these techniques from St John Ambulance (


  • Encourage the person to try to cough up the blockage.
  • If coughing doesn't work, help them to bend forward, then use the heel of your hand to give up to five sharp blows between their shoulder blades. Check their mouth to see if the blockage has come up and if it has, get the casualty to pick it out.

If back blows don't work, give the person up to five abdominal thrusts (as set out the steps below).

  1. Stand behind the person, link your hands between their tummy button and the bottom of their chest, with your lower hand clenched in a fist.
  2. Pull sharply inwards and upwards. Repeat.

If they're still choking, repeat steps 2 and 3 up to three times or until you've dislodged what's in the person's throat and they can breathe normally again. If they're still choking after you've repeated these steps three times, call 999 or 112 for medical help. Continue steps 2 and 3 until either the blockage is cleared or help arrives.


Is something blocking the wound? If so, don't move it as it may be acting as a plug to reduce bleeding.

  • Apply pressure on either side of the wound with a pad or fingers until a sterile dressing is available.
  • Raise and support the injured body part to reduce blood flow.
  • Call 112 or 999 and firmly wrap a bandage around the pad or dressing on top of the wound. Make it firmly enough to maintain pressure, but not so tight that it restricts circulation.
  • If blood shows through the dressing while you're waiting for help, apply a second dressing on top of the first.

Unconscious and not breathing

  • If the person is unconscious, open their airway by placing one hand on their forehead and two fingers under their chin, Gently tilt their head back and lift the chin.
  • Maintain the head tilt and chin lift, and look for chest movement. Listen for the sounds of normal breathing. Call 999.

Now you'll need to perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation):

  1. Kneel down beside the casualty on the floor, level with their chest.
  2. Place the heel of one hand towards the end of their breastbone, in the centre of their chest.
  3. Place the heel of your other hand on top of the first hand and interlock your fingers, making sure you keep the fingers off the ribs.
  4. Lean over the casualty, with your arms straight, pressing down vertically on the breastbone, and press the chest down by 5-6 cm.
  5. Release the pressure without removing your hands from their chest. Allow the chest to come back up fully. Repeat 30 times, about twice a second. Give two rescue breaths.
  6. Ensure the casualty's airway is open. Pinch their nose firmly closed. Take a deep breath and seal your lips around their mouth. Blow into the mouth until the chest rises. Remove your mouth and allow the chest to fall. Carry on giving 30 chest compressions then two rescue breaths until help arrives. Watch the Recovery Position film for step by step instructions.

- from the Student Health Guide 2020-21 and St John Ambulance

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