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First Aid: ABC of Resuscitation

When first arriving at an emergency scene, there are six essential things that have to be assessed first.

We call this the HHH ABC

H Hazards: Is there anything that could pose a threat to you, e.g. oncoming cars, open electrical wires, dangerous wildlife, etc.

H Hallo: Check for any response from the casualty (the person you're going to treat). Always get consent before treating someone; unconsciousness is implied consent.

H Help: Call emergency services or send a bystander to call them. Give the dispatcher the address and nature of the illness or injury. Don't hang-up before they do.

To stay alive a person must have an open Airway, Breathing and Circulation.

A Airway: The airway must be open for a person to breath.

B Breathing: A person must breathe so that oxygen can pass from the lungs to the blood.

C Circulation: The heart must circulate oxygen-carrying blood through the body.

To check for consciousness, gently shake the casualty by the shoulders. Take care not to move the neck.

Open the Airway:

Look into the person's mouth to see if there are any loose objects in it. If there is, try getting it out by hooking your finger behind the object. If you are unable to do this, hit the casualty on the back (if you are able to turn the person over). If you can't roll the person over, or if hitting him on the back fails, you will have to do abdominal thrusts. Kneel astride the casualty, who is lying on his back. Put the heel of one hand midway between the navel and the ribcage and place your other hand over the first hand, interlocking your fingers. Push sharply inwards and upwards under the casualty's ribcage.

Check to see if the object has dislodged. If it has, try to remove it by hooking your finger behind it. Be careful so as to not push the object back or further down. If it hasn't, repeat the above cycle of back blows and abdominal thrusts, five at a time.

Never do the abdominal thrusts, aka the Heimlich Maneuver, on babies or children.

Check for Breathing:

Keep the casualty's airway open as described above.

Looking at the casualty's chest, place your cheek close to the casualty's mouth and nose. Simultaneously look for chest movement, listen for sounds of breathing and feel for breathing on your cheek. Do this for five seconds; you will only be able to decide whether or not the casualty is breathing after this time has lapsed.

Check for Circulation:

Using only two fingers of one hand find the Adam's apple and slide your fingers sideways into the hollow next to the Adam's apple. Feel for the carotid pulse. Press firmly but not to hard. Check the pulse for five seconds before deciding whether the pulse is present or absent. Once you have completed the ABC you will be able to decide on the correct course of action.

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