First aid

First aid is the immediate care given to a sick or injured person before health-care professionals arrive. Its aims are to preserve life, prevent a condition from worsening, and promote as fast a recovery as possible. Your top priority in emergency situations, before starting first aid, is to call 999 for medical assistance. If possible, ask a bystander to make the call. The next priority is to check the scene for possible dangers to you, the victim, or bystanders, such as fire or dangerous fumes. You will not be able to help the person if you become a victim yourself, so you should always put your own safety first. If you cannot approach the victim safely, phone for help immediately. If it is safe to approach, you should then aim to assess the victim's condition and give first aid.

The instructions in this section are designed to help you handle common emergency situations. There is no substitute for professional training, however, and the best form of training is a practical course in first aid. The British Red Cross, St John Ambulance, and St Andrew's Ambulance Association all run courses. On successful completion of a first-aid course, you receive a certificate that is valid for 3 years. Training in some skills, such as artificial respiration, is valid for only 1 year.

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