Written by Daniel Aday, CompOne Administrators Safety & Loss Prevention Specialist
Picture this: you are at work, thinking about lunch, and you turn your head toward the window and see someone just outside, collapse and they are lying face down, not moving. Take a moment now to think about what you would do. If you are unsure what to do, or maybe you thought you would instantly call 911, or perhaps you would run out there to help and provide care. While it is hard to give a statistic behind it, we know that the “bystander effect” is real, and there is a surprising number of people who would do absolutely nothing. It is likely that when you took that previous moment to think what you would do, that you did not say to yourself, “I would not do anything” and that is because we always think highly of ourselves. We tend to think that we could solve most problems when they come up. Yet, when faced with an emergency, we tend to fall to our level of training (which may be none) rather than rise to the level of expectations. Knowing right now what to do, who should be called, and when things need to happen make the biggest difference in the future when an emergency does occurs.
If you can’t protect yourself from getting hurt, don’t endanger yourself to help others. Whether it is stopping to assist someone who was just t-boned in their car going through an intersection, or helping someone who just got hurt using basic hand power tools, always keep your safety your absolute goal of the event. If that means that you cannot safely help the injured party, then there is not much you can do other than calling 911 and retreating to a safe spot. Not only is your safety important, but if you were to be injured in the process, you’ve added additional risk to the first responders that could have been avoided. When approaching the area, accident scene, or place where an injury occurred, always look around and quickly gather an idea of what caused the injury. Identify what could have caused the injury or accident and determine your level of safety. If the threat is high, do not intervene and call 911.
Once – or if – the scene is safe, you will need to assess whether this is a life threatening condition and if you should either provide care or call 911 first. Likely, there will be others in the area to help and grab a first aid kit, but that’s not always the case! Sometimes you are by yourself and need to determine what’s more important. Care first situations are situations that need immediate attention and first aid as soon as possible. These first seconds matter the most. Care first situations tend to be non-cardiac emergencies, which include breathing emergencies (choking or asthma) or severe bleeding., such as sudden cardiac arrest (heart stops and not breathing at all).
Give care to your level of knowledge. Just because you watched some TV show were they performed a risky first aid procedure and ended up saving a random stranger’s life, does not mean that you should attempt that on someone else in a real event. If you do not know how to perform the Heimlich maneuver, do not attempt it. If you are unsure of where you should do compressions on the chest of someone who is not breathing, do not attempt CPR. Performing these things ineffectively or incorrectly may not only do nothing to help, but may also end up causing more damage. The basic rule when approaching someone who needs care is to introduce yourself and provide your level of training to the injured person and ask for consent before providing care to someone who is conscious: “Hi, my name is Dan and I am trained in First Aid. May I help you?”
If you are interested in finding out more information on first aid, or on obtaining your Red Cross First Aid, CPR, and AED certificate, you can contact me at 734-309-3456 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.