First aid training teaches people how to provide help for a long list of injuries and illnesses. However, within this type of training, there are some skills which are considered paramount and have to be the focus of any rescuer during serious, life-saving interventions. These skills, which are commonly referred to as the “ABC” of first aid training, are briefly described below.
* A – Airway
In case of a fallen victim, who is unconscious and not responding to vocal or physical stimuli, the rescuer has to first pay attention to the airway. He or she has to make sure that it is clear and that there are no foreign objects obstructing it and impeding breathing. Sometimes, there may be no foreign objects involved, but the victim’s own tongue may be fallen backwards blocking the air path. In these cases, the first aid trainee has to hyperextend the victim’s head while simultaneously pulling the chin up so that the tongue falls back in its place, removing the obstruction.
* B – Breathing
After the rescuer makes sure the airway is unobstructed, he has to verify whether the victim can breathe on its own or if he needs assistance. In the latter situation, the rescuer has to start artificial breathing, either via the mouth-to-mouth technique or through a mask, if he has one readily available. First aid training teaches people to rapidly check if a victim is breathing by watching to see if the chest rises and descends and by feeling the breaths on the cheek. In some situations, like in case of drowning, artificial breaths performed correctly can be enough to restore the victim to normal functions.
* C – Circulation
The third link is the first aid emergency intervention chain is verifying and ensuring circulation. Evaluating the circulation is done by checking for a pulse. There are other signs that can indicate if the victim has no circulation, such as the blue-purple coloration of the face and the coldness of the skin. In case there is no pulse present, the rescuer can immediately begin performing chest compressions. If the rescuer has already observed there is no breathing present, he is permitted to immediately start the chest compressions without wasting any more time searching for a pulse.
* Rules and Exceptions
The ABC first aid protocol has to be performed before any other, less significant injuries are treated. Once the breathing and circulation are stabilized, the rescuer can take care of any other wounds the victim has.
The three steps are meant to be performed in sequence, but there are certain situations where two steps must be made simultaneously. For example, in case of victims with no pulse and no respiration, both the artificial breathing and the chest compressions have to be started at the same time.
The ABC is a mnemonic method meant to help first aid trainees recall the sequence of actions they have to take in critical situations when victims are in cardiac arrest. In the majority of cases which require first aid, the ABC protocol has to override any other treatments.
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