77% of people lack the knowledge and confidence to administer basic First Aid

Around 34,000 Scots are admitted to hospital each year as a result of burns, falls and choking; common accidents that require emergency attention, yet recent research shows 77 percent of people lack the knowledge and confidence to administer basic first aid, and go straight for 999.

Falls are one of the most common causes of childhood accidents. Each day, around 45 toddlers in the UK are taken into hospital because they’ve had a serious fall. These usually happen at home or in the garden. In Scotland last year, over 33,000 people were admitted to hospital as a result of a fall, over 4,200 of these were children. However, a recent survey found that 57 percent of parents whose children had suffered a head injury, didn’t know what to do.

The most common symptoms of a head injury are mild headache, nausea, tender bruising or swelling of the scalp and mild bruising. In these cases observation is the best course of action; monitoring the casualty for any change in or worsening of systems over 48 hours. Should a casualty any serious symptoms such as loss of balance or difficulty staying awake, or their condition worsen, seek medical assistance immediately.

Meanwhile, the majority of people surveyed didn’t know the correct practice for treating a nosebleed (59 percent) or someone who has fainted (57 percent). In the case of a nosebleed, sit the casualty down, pinch the soft part of the nose just above the nostrils and lean them forward. Do not tilt the head backwards, as this causes the blood to run down the throat, potentially causing the casualty to choke or vomit.

If someone has fainted, lay them on their back, checking their airway is clear, and restore blood flow to the brain by loosening belts collars etc and elevating their feet above their head. If the person does not regain consciousness within two minutes, place them in the recovery position and seek medical attention.

Six toddlers are admitted to hospital every day in the UK because they’ve been badly burned. Babies and young children have such delicate skin that they can be burned far more easily than adults. The correct treatment for a burn is to run the affected area under lukewarm or cool water until the burning sensation stops. Ice cold water or ice can cause further damage, as it restricts blood flow to area and prevents healing. In Scotland last year, over 800 people were admitted to hospital for burns and scalds. Nearly 200 of these were toddlers and most incidents occurred in the home.

Each day in the UK around 40 toddlers are rushed to hospital after choking on something, or swallowing something dangerous. Food is the most likely cause. In Scotland last year, nearly 170 people were admitted to hospital as a result of choking, 22 of which were children. However, a recent survey found that one in three people wouldn’t know what to do if their toddler was choking.

Basic first aid can be life saving in situations like this. It may take only seconds to dial 999, but the average target response time for an ambulance is eight minutes… it takes only four for choking to prove fatal.

In the case of severe choking, when the casualty cannot speak, cry, cough or breathe, the first course of action is to administer five sharp blows between the shoulder blades, stopping between each to check if the blockage has cleared. If not, move to abdominal thrusts. Do not use abdominal thrusts on babies under one year old, pregnant women or obese adults.

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