First aid techniques are those used in the process of administering temporary medical aid until professional care can be sought, or the patient's condition improves. The techniques used are mainly dependent upon the type of emergency that is presented. Major medical issues such as choking, cardiac arrest, and broken bones all require the use of different first aid techniques, as do minor irritations such as cuts, insect bites, and minor burns.
The standard first aid technique used for cardiac arrest is known as cardiopulmonary respiration (CPR). This technique involves both breathing for the afflicted individual, and doing chest compressions in an attempt to keep blood flow circulating and oxygen reaching the brain. The technique is carried out in different ways for infants and adults, with the entire nose and mouth area being covered in infants, and the chest compressions being lighter.
Choking is another life or death situation in which a first aid technique known as the Heimlich Maneuver is used. This technique is meant to force an obstruction (usually a piece of food) from the airway, thereby allowing the person to breathe again. Performing the Heimlich Maneuver involves using a series of quick, upward thrusts just below the rib cage. The person administering the maneuver must stand behind the victim.
First aid techniques for broken bones involve reducing the swelling through the use of ice and immobilization. If the affected area is kept still, further damage is unlikely. The best way to keep the fracture still is by using a splint, but only those who are trained in preparing one should try it. In some cases, splints made by those not trained in the technique can do greater damage.
Burns may require different first aid techniques, depending on the severity. For example, with minor burns, it is considered proper to use bandages and ointments to help protect the area. With major burns, while sterile bandages are recommended, but ointments are not. This is mainly due to the fact that major burns mean the skin has been broken and ointments on broken skin could be painful and unhelpful. With most types of burns, the application of ice or ice packs immediately following the incident will help reduce the severity of the tissue damage.
Lacerations require the ability of the first aid provider to determine the severity in order to know what course of action is needed. Usually, all that is required is a self-adhesive bandage. Larger wounds may require bandages that need tape or hooks in order to stay in place. The cut should always be washed and treated with an antibiotic to prevent infection. Deeper cuts may need further attention, such as stitches to properly close up the wound. In all cases, it is of paramount importance to observe the level of bleeding, as a tourniquet may be necessary to prevent major blood loss if the bleeding is severe.
Most of the materials needed for a variety of first aid techniques can be found in a standard first aid kit. These kits are usually white or some other neutral color with a red cross superimposed on the front. First aid kits are often found in public places and public vehicles, such as a city bus. They can also be purchased for home, car, or outdoor use almost anywhere pharmaceuticals are sold.