Basic First Aid: The Myths That Cost Lives

In an ideal world, everyone would attain at least basic first aid certification – and be able to remember it in an emergency situation.  But according to recent statistics, up to 150,000 people in Britain die in an emergency situation every year through a lack of first aid training; from the 2,500 victims of asphyxiation to the 75,000 killed by cardiac arrests.  Read on to discover some common widespread misconceptions that often stop us doing what we can in an emergency situation.

Myth 1 – The Ambulance Will Be Here Any Minute Now

This is a common misconception.  In Scotland, the target-response-time for any life threatening emergency in urban areas is eight minutes, meaning if you’ve just called an ambulance it won’t magically appear.  Rural areas can take far longer.

Myth 2 – Tilting Your Head Back During a Nosebleed

Tilting the head back during a nosebleed can cause blood to run down the throat and lead to nausea and vomiting.  Instead, tilting your head forward whilst pinching your nose shut and breathing through your mouth should stop the flow of blood.  If the bleeding continues for 30 minutes or longer, go to the hospital.

Myth 3 – Heart Attack Victims Should Lie Down, Rather Than Sit Up

Making a heart attack victim lie down can actually make it more difficult for them to breathe.  Placing the victim in a half-sitting position, with their knees bent will help them to breathe deeper and you should support their head and shoulders.

Myth 4 – You Must Make A Child Vomit After Drinking Bleach

Whilst some believe this is the correct way to help in this emergency situation, this can actually cause more damage to the body.  The best way to help is to call 999 and let your child sip cold milk or water if their lips are burnt from the corrosive substance.

Myth 5 – You Must Always Tie a Tourniquet around a Bleeding Limb

Whilst many people believe this is the best way to treat a patient who is bleeding heavily, it could stop all blood flow and cause potential tissue damage.  In most cases, it is better to place strong pressure on the wound and raise the affected limb. Tourniquets require additional training beyond traditional first aid course types.

Myth 6 – Place Your Head between Your Legs if Someone Feels Faint

This could cause them to fall forward.  You should lie them down, whilst raising their legs to increase blood flow to the brain.

Whilst this is just a brief overview of some of the common misconceptions associated with emergency situations, gaining an awareness of basic first aid by attending a first aid course could help you to save a life.