Preparedness Fundamentals

First Aid - Emergency

First Aid - Emergency 1471

First aid is the immediate care given to a person who is injured or ill. Because life-threatening situations occur, everyone should know how to provide basic emergency care to keep an injured or sick person alive and safe until they can receive care by emergency responders or hospital staff.

The best way to become comfortable with first aid is to take a class through the American Red Cross, a community college or other reputable provider. It is a good idea to keep a reference book in your disaster kit to help you make decisions if you are not able to access emergency medical services or medical care as quickly as you normally would.
For any situation that appears to be life-threatening, it's important to call 911 and get help on the way as soon as possible.

The primary purpose of first aid is to:

  • Manage injuries and care for life-threatening situations.
  • Protect the patient from further injury and complications.
  • Arrange transportation for the patient to a medical facility.
  • Make the patient as comfortable as possible.

Call 911 if:

  • The patient is not conscious, is confused (cannot remember their name, location or recent events), or is losing consciousness.
  • The patient is not breathing normally or is having difficulty breathing.
  • The patient is experiencing chest pain, pressure or sudden, severe back or jaw pain.
  • The patient has persistent pressure or pain in their abdomen.
  • The patient has had a seizure (especially if it lasted several minutes or there was more than one).
  • The patient is vomiting or passing blood.
  • The injury might be causing internal bleeding.
  • The injury might include broken bones.
  • The patient seems to have been poisoned.
  • The patient has one sided weakness in their face or body, slurred speech or difficulty speaking.
  • The patient has sudden and severe headache.
  • The patient has head, neck or back injuries.
It is important to note that during a large-scale event, such as the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake, emergency services may not be available for an extended period of time. Everyone is a first responder! Get training so you can be the help until help arrives.