At-Home Emergency Procedures

Your family's immediate response to any serious medical emergency should be to dial 10111 or 112 from your cellphone. Nothing takes the place of trained staff and sometimes when someone inexperienced tries to help out, this may do more harm than good. However, if someone in your family is in need of immediate medical attention and you are waiting for the emergency service to arrive, here are some important tips:

  • Stay on the phone.

Explain to the person on the phone what the problem is and ask if there's anything you can do to help. Sometimes the person on the other end of the phone will be able to walk you through emergency procedures, or they'll be able to reassure you that help will be there in minutes and that you're better off leaving the person alone.

  • If a person has been injured in a fall or by an object, don't move them unless they are in immediate danger from something else.

You could do more damage to their back or other parts of their body by moving them. Only move a person if you feel their life is in danger where they are - for example, don't remove someone from a car wreck unless the car is on fire or in danger of being hit by other cars.

  • If someone is choking but still able to cough or breathe, don't pat him or her on the back.

This can cause whatever is choking the person to lodge permanently in his or her throat. If someone is able to cough or breathe, encourage him or her to keep coughing and to throw his or her arms in the air to help dislodge the object.

  • If someone is choking and can't breathe, perform the Heimlich Manoeuvre.

This is a simple, life-saving manoeuvre that you can perform on yourself or others. The best way to learn the manoeuvre is through a first-aid course or from a health care professional. But you can also read the steps to the manoeuvre online (and may want to print off the directions) to post at home.

  • If someone isn't breathing and you know how to perform CPR, do so. Don't try to perform CPR unless you know how and are certified.

Learning CPR can save the lives of those around you. Many community organisations offer CPR courses and certification.

  • If someone is bleeding, apply pressure.

Whether their wound is small or large, you want to stop bleeding as quickly as possible. Apply pressure by holding a cloth firmly over the wound. If there are no broken bones, raise the injured part of the body above the heart to slow the blood flow.

You or someone in your family may want to consider taking a first-aid course that includes treating minor wounds, learning the Heimlich, and CPR.

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