First aid is the initial basic treatment of an injured or ill person. First aid requires an observer first to evaluate the injured or ill person and then to intervene, using a small amount of supplies.
First aid is provided to a person immediately following an accident or onset of illness to decrease complications and to offer psychological (emotional) and physical comfort. It is performed to decrease the individual's pain and suffering until emergency medical technicians (EMTs) or other health care givers arrive on the scene.
The provision of first aid should never postpone the initial contact with the emergency medical system. The bystander should wear disposable latex gloves if available, in case of contact with blood or body fluids. If gloves are not available, plastic bags or wrap can be used as a protective barrier.
First aid is a universal term that encompasses many general concepts for rapid assessment of health crises and intervention. The following sections present the most common injuries and illnesses requiring first aid, and the interventions appropriate in these situations.
Changes in mental status
ASSESSMENT. With any sudden changes in a person's brain functioning, first aid should start immediately. Assess the person for:
INTERVENTION. Initiate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if the person is not breathing. Secure the area around the person by removing any potential hazards, and maintain a favorable environment by providing an adequate area ventilation and room temperature. The person should be placed in a side-lying position.
Lori Ann Beck R.N., M.S.N., F.N.P.-C., The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,