Difficult first aid situations
When it comes to first aid, assessing the situation properly is
crucial. Call for help early on.
Incidents involving traffic, fire, electricity or water can put
your own life at risk. Be sure it is safe to approach.
Poster download: What to do in an
Important questions to ask yourself
- • What are the dangers and are you or the casualty still
in any danger?
- • Have you got any protective clothing or equipment on?
- • Is it safe for you to go up to them?
- • What has caused the accident or situation?
- • How many casualties are there?
- • What happened?
- • How many people are involved and how old are they?
- • What do you think the main injuries could be?
How to make the area safe
Call for help – 999 or 112.
Set up warning triangles 45m away in each direction.
Make vehicles safe by turning off the ignition.
Stop upright vehicles from moving by applying a handbrake,
putting in gear or putting blocks in front of the wheels.
Look out for physical dangers like oncoming traffic.
Tell the emergency services if any power lines have been
damaged, fuel has been spilt or if any vehicles have hazard signs
showing they contain harmful substances.
How to assess the casualties
Assume that anyone who’s been in a road traffic accident could
have a neck or spinal injury.
If possible, treat them in the position you find them in,
supporting their head and neck all the time and wait for the
emergency services to come.
Search the area to make sure you don’t miss anyone who have may
been thrown or who has wandered off.
Ask bystanders to help.
If someone’s trapped inside or under a vehicle, you’ll need to
wait for the fire service to get them out.
How to leave a burning building
If you see or suspect a fire in a building, set off the first
fire alarm you see.
Call 999 or 112.
Try to help others out of the building but don’t put yourself at
Close doors behind you to help stop the fire from spreading.
Use the fire exits and look for assembly points outside.
Don’t use lifts.
What to do if someone’s clothing is on fire
If someone’s clothing is on fire, remember ‒
Stop, Drop and
Stop them from panicking or running or
going outside because any movement or breeze will fan the
Drop them to the ground and wrap them
tightly in a fire blanket or heavy material like a coat, curtain,
woollen blanket or rug.
Roll them along the ground to smother the
flames until they go out – then treat any burns by cooling them as soon as
Call 999 or 112 for emergency help.
Common injuries from electrical incidents
arrest – if someone
experiences an electric current through their body it may stun them
and stop their breathing and heartbeat.
– an electric current can give someone burns where it
enters and exits the body.
Fractures and spinal
injuries – a direct current
(DC) can cause a large muscular contraction that often throws
someone and can result in injuries like fractures and spinal
Electrically charged – an
alternating current (AC) causes muscular spasms which can lock
their grasp so that they can’t let go. This means they are
electrically charged so you mustn’t touch them or you'll risk
electrocution too. Instead you need to break their contact with the
source of electricity.
How to break contact with electricity
Don't touch the person. Call for help.
If you can, stop the source of electricity by:
- • turning it off
- • pulling out the plug, or
- • switching off the current at the mains.
If you can't stop the source of electricity, move the
casualty away from it without touching them
directly. Don't use anything metal as this will conduct
- • Stand on material like a wooden box, a plastic mat or a
- • Use something wooden like a pole, broom or stool
– nothing metal – to
push their limbs away from the source.
- • Or loop some rope around their ankles or under their arms
– making absolutely sure you don’t touch
them – and pull them away from the
Once you’re sure the casualty is clear of the electric
current, carry out the primary survey,
treat their injuries in order of priority and call 999 or 112 for
Common conditions caused by water incidents include
Cardiac arrest – if someone’s
suddenly falls into cold water it can make their heart stop, known
as cardiac arrest.
Hypothermia – being in cold water
can cause hypothermia.
Shock – being in cold water can
make the conditions of shock worse.
Drowning – if someone inhales
water this can block the airway causing them to drown.
Heart problems – the effort of
swimming can also put a strain on the heart.
How to rescue someone from water
Call for help – 999 or 112.
Getting the casualty out of the water
Stay on dry land yourself and throw them a life belt if one is
available, or hold out a stick, a branch or rope for them to grab
and then pull them out of the water.
If they can’t pull themselves out because they’re unresponsive,
and it’s safe for you to go in the water, wade or swim to the
casualty and tow them to the bank, keeping them as upright as
If you can’t get the casualty out of the water safely, wait for
When the casualty is out of the water
If they’re unresponsive, open their airway and check for
If they are not breathing, begin resuscitation (CPR).
If they’re responsive, try to shield them from the wind and
treat them for drowning and then for
Take or send them to hospital even if they seem to be better. If
you are worried about how serious the casualty's condition is then
call 999 or 112 for medical help, if you haven't previousy done