First Aid Refresher – Part 3

Part 1 of this series covered what to do when you initially approach an injured person. Part 2 outlined things that you should never do when providing first aid, as well as the basic treatment for bleeding and shock. In this final section, we will continue our discussion of first aid basics for several common conditions.

Broken Bone

  • Immobilize the area.
  • Numb the pain. Often, this can be done with an ice pack covered by a towel.
  • Make a splint. A bundle of newspapers and sturdy tape could do the trick. You could also stabilize a broken finger by taping it to an unbroken finger.
  • Make a sling, if necessary. Tie a shirt or a pillowcase around a broken arm and then around the shoulder.


Choking can cause death or permanent brain damage within minutes. The following describes how to use the Heimlich maneuver to clear the airway of a choking victim:

  • From behind, wrap your arms around the victim’s waist.
  • Make a fist and place the thumb side of your fist against the victim’s upper abdomen, below the ribcage and above the navel.
  • Grasp your fist with your other hand and press into their upper abdomen with a quick upward thrust. Do not squeeze the ribcage. Confine the force of the thrust to your hands.
  • Repeat until object is expelled.


Treat first- and second-degree burns by immersing or flushing them with cool water. Don’t use ice, creams, butter or other ointments, and do not pop blisters. Cover third-degree burns with a damp cloth. Remove clothing and jewelry from the burn if possible, but do not try to remove charred clothing that is stuck to the burn.

Possible Concussion

If the victim has suffered a blow to the head, look for signs of concussion. Common symptoms of concussion include: loss of consciousness following the injury, disorientation or memory impairment, vertigo, nausea and lethargy. Keep the injured person lying down and still.

Spinal Injury

If you suspect a spinal injury, it is especially critical that you not move the victim’s head, neck or back unless he/she is in immediate danger. Keep the person still. If the victim needs CPR, do not tilt the head back to open the airway. Use your fingers to gently grasp the jaw and lift it forward.


Seizures can be scary. Luckily, helping people with seizures is relatively straightforward. Help the victim lie down to avoid injury, and let the seizure run its course. Following the seizure, check to see if the victim is breathing. If not, perform CPR at once. As soon as you can, write down any details that might help medical professionals diagnose the patient’s condition.

In all situations, use common sense, and call 911 as necessary.