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First aid training

First aid training
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First aid basics

5-minute read

IMPORTANT: If you’re reading this because there is an emergency, then stop and call triple zero (000). The people you speak to can guide you to provide first aid.

What is first aid?

Accidents or illness can happen to anyone at any time, whether at home, at work or at school.

First aid covers the steps taken to help an injured or sick person in the first minutes after the event.

Often this first aid can help someone feel better, recover more quickly, and can even save lives.

First aid can be useful in many different situations, from sprains to electric shocks to heart attacks.

Why learn first aid?

If you learn the basics of first aid, you might one day save the life of a loved one, colleague or stranger.

First aid might involve a simple action, such as placing a person in the correct position to breathe freely. It might involve a more skilled activity, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if they have stopped breathing.

The DRSABCD action plan

If you have completed a first aid course, you will be familiar with the DRSABCD action plan. You can remember them by thinking “Doctor’s ABCD” (for DRS ABCD).

Each letter is a prompt for the actions to take when first aid is needed.

DRSABCD ACTION PLAN
Letter Representing What to do
D Danger Ensure that the patient and everyone in the area is safe. Do not put yourself or others at risk. Remove the danger or the patient.
R Response Look for a response from the patient — loudly ask their name, squeeze their shoulder.
S Send for help If there is no response, phone triple zero (000) or ask another person to call. Do not leave the patient.
A Airway Check their mouth and throat is clear. Remove any obvious blockages in the mouth or nose, such as vomit, blood, food or loose teeth, then gently tilt their head back and lift their chin.
B Breathing Check if the person is breathing abnormally or not breathing at all after 10 seconds. If they are breathing normally, place them in the recovery position and stay with them.
C CPR If they are still not breathing normally, start CPR. Chest compressions are the most important part of CPR. Start chest compressions as soon as possible after calling for help.
D Defibrillation Attach an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to the patient if one is available and there is someone else who is able to bring it. Do not get one yourself if that would mean leaving the patient alone.

The DRSABCD action plan is a useful tool in first aid. But you will manage it even better if you have training in how to perform each action the right way.

Where to learn first aid

If you want to learn first aid, there are plenty of courses available. Some run for a couple of hours and others for a couple of days.

St John Ambulance Australia, the Royal Life Saving Society - Australia and the Australian Red Cross are among the organisations that offer courses and certificates in first aid, including CPR.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: May 2018


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