What to do in an emergency?

Emergencies can occur when you least expect it. Someone around you may suddenly collapse or suffer a heart attack. What can you do to help?

This is a short and simple guide that aims to help you remember what to do in an emergency. 

Credit: What Is CPR?

DR. A.B.C.

Here is a simple acronym to help you remember what you can do in an emergency; DR. A.B.C.

D - Danger

Get to the person and check for any danger. The person may have collapsed due to reasons such as being electrocuted by a live wire, or the person may have slipped and fell. Look around the person to check for any danger. This step is done to ensure that you will remain safe while you are helping others. The worst possible scenario is to end up with an extra casualty.

R - Response

Lay the person on his back and tap the person on the collar bone (aka Clavicle) with strength and check if the person responds. Ask: 'Are you ok?' while doing so.

Credit: What Is CPR?

Source: Wikipedia

This is to check if the person is conscious which would help decide your subsequent response. If the person is conscious, you can check if he is feeling alright and if he needs any help or has any medication that he has to take. 

This will also help to ensure that the person is not playing a prank. A hard tap on the collar bone is rather painful.

If the person is unconscious, get someone to call for medical help or to call for an ambulance before moving on to the next step. 

A - Airway

Tilt the person's head backward, his jaw should rise slightly. Using another hand, press your palm down on his chin and open his mouth. Look into his mouth to check for any obstruction that may block his airway. 

Source: Healthy Life

Airway here refers to the person's pharynx (or the area that links the lungs to the throat - this also leads to the stomach and occasionally food goes into the wrong channel)

A common reason people collapse, is due to them choking on food and eventually passing out due to their inability to breathe.

If there are visible obstructions, use your fingers to remove the item. Be aware that the item may move deeper down their throat if this step is not done properly. If there are willing people around you, you can enlist their help to remove the item.

In some cases, removing the obstruction will lead to a gag reaction which may wake the person up and help to completely clear the obstruction. In such cases, help the person by patting him on the back, and letting him rest after vomiting the item out. 

If there are no obstructions, or if the person remains unconscious after the obstructions are cleared, move on to check for breathing.

B - Breathing

Check for breathing or any signs of life. Based on the Royal Life Saving's guidelines, signs of life include the following; responsiveness, movement, breathing and consciousness.

You can check for breathing or signs of life by placing your ear next to the person's nose and listen for any breathing. At the same time look at the person's chest and look out for any movement or rising of chest.

Source: Nursing 411

If there is breathing or movement, place the person into a recovery position. The recovery position is detailed below.

If there is no breathing, give the person two rescue breathes before moving on to giving compression. 

Rescue breathes

To give a rescue breathe, tilt the person's head back just as you had previously done to open his airway. Use the palm of your free hand to push his chin down to open his mouth. Place your mouth over his, ensuring that the entire mouth is covered. Breathe out into the person's mouth. 

While doing so, try to keep your eyes on the person's chest to look for the rising of his chest as you breathe out into his mouth.

C - Compression 

This step involves alternating between chest compressions and rescue breathes. Each cycle involves 30 chest compressions (done at a pace of 100 compressions per minute or 1.5 compressions per second) and 2 rescue breathes. 

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica.

Locating the point of compression

To locate the point for compression, feel for the base of the person's rib cage, follow the base to the middle of his chest. The part where both sides of the rib cages join is the xiphoid process. Two finger space away from the xiphoid process, is the ideal point of compression. If you panic during an emergency, just place your palm at the area of equal distance from the person's nipples. 

Carry out the 30 chest compressions and 2 rescue breathe for 5 cycles before checking for any signs of life again. The Royal Life Saving Society suggests that you should continue the compression cycle until you notice any signs of life, or until professional medical help arrives.

The Recovery Position

The recovery position allows you to monitor the condition of the person while waiting for professional medical help to arrive.

Recovery Position

Source: Opioid Overdose Prevention

To place the person in a recovery position, turn him on his side and ensure that his airway remains opened. To ensure that the person does not fall face flat onto the ground, place the hand of the arm which is away from the ground under his chin. His elbow should bend, and his lower arm should be supporting his head. Make sure that the person's head is tilted away from his body in a way that his neck is fully extended, this will ensure that the person's airway is opened. 

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Keep a portable guide with you at all times, in case of emergencies.


Now that you know what to do in an emergency, always remember DR. A.B.C. This could help you save a life, and that life could belong to someone you love dearly.