Jay Allen St John
Jay Allen

Member Article

First Aid from St John Ambulance

Would you know what to do in a medical emergency? What if someone collapsed in front of you or you saw a colleague get injured at work? St John Ambulance, the nation’s leading first aid organisation, wants more people to learn the basic skills that could be the difference between a life lost and a life saved. Jay Allen from the organisation’s Northumbria branch writes a regular column of handy first aid tips BDaily to help you be the difference. Today he tells us what to do if we suspect someone is having a heart attack.

‘30,000 people have a cardiac arrest each year outside of a hospital and yet only one-third receive the help they need. When asked, almost two thirds admitted they wouldn’t know what to do. Too many people die when first aid could have given them a chance to live.

One of the most common scenarios first aiders come across is a person complaining of chest pains. It could be something minor but if the person is complaining of a vice-like pain or a feeling of heavy pressure on the chest that is spreading down one arm, you should suspect a heart attack.

The person may also be breathless, very pale or complaining of nausea. A sudden collapse is also common with heart attacks.

The main risk is that the heart will stop beating so your aim is to make the person comfortable and get medical help as soon as possible. The first thing to do is to make them sit down so they can be comfortable - a half sitting position with knees bent and head and shoulders supported is best.

Call 999 for emergency help and tell ambulance control you suspect a heart attack. If the person is not allergic to aspirin and you’ve got some handy, give the person one tablet and tell them to chew it slowly.

It’s really important to monitor and reassure the person while you’re helping them – being calm can make a huge difference.

Another reason for chest pain could be an angina attack. Although this gives similar symptoms to a heart attack, it normally starts as a result of exercise or exertion and goes away with rest.

The person will often know they have angina and will have medication to take. Let them take that and rest – if the pain continues, treat it as a heart attack and call 999.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Jay Allen .

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