First aid

If at anytime you need urgent medical assistance for a life-threatening injury or illness call 000 immediately for an ambulance.

If you are on a University campus/centre contact your nearest First Aid Officer or phone Security on 1800 646 501.

Providing immediate and effective first aid to someone who has been injured or become ill may reduce the severity of the injury or illness and promote recovery. In some cases, it could mean the difference between life and death.

First aid is the immediate treatment or care given to a person suffering from an injury or illness until more advanced care is provided or the person recovers.

A First Aider is a person who has successfully completed a nationally accredited training course or an equivalent level of training that has given them the competencies required to administer first aid.

The University as part of its ongoing commitment to the wellbeing of staff, students and visitors, trains staff volunteers as First Aid Officers and provides first aid equipment to all campuses/centres and in all University pool vehicles. 

First aid kits
throughout the University are located near this symbol - a white cross on a dark green background.


First aid helmet 
First Aid Officers
during an emergency can be recognised by their hat - dark green or dark green with a white cross. If a volunteer is both a Warden and a First Aid Officer, they will wear the appropriate coloured hat for their Warden duties and the hat will also have a white cross or first aid sticker attached.

locations are recognised by this symbol.


The following first aid information is current as of August 2015 and has been kindly supplied with permission from the Australian Red Cross. The information on this web page does not replace first aid training. The Australian Red Cross recommends that everyone is trained in first aid.

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Basic Life Support

Remember: DRSABCD - In any emergency, any CPR is better than no CPR at all.

danger-iconresponse-icon emergency-icon airway-icon breathing-icon cpr-icon defib-icon



 D - Check for Danger

 To yourself, to others and to the injured person.




response-icon R - Check for Response

 Ask the injured person's name, gently squeeze their shoulders, ask them to squeeze your hands.

 No Response - send for help - call 000, or ask someone to do it for you.

 Response - make the injured person comfortable, monitor their breathing, check for other injuries. Do not leave the injured person alone.



S - Send for help

Call 000 for an ambulance or ask someone to do it for you if they are close by.



airway-icon A - Open Airway (check for anything blocking the throat or stopping the person breathing)

 If nothing blocking the airway - leave them on their back, open their airway by tilting their head back.

 If something blocking the airway - place them in the recovery position on their side, open their mouth, clear the blockage with your fingers, open the airway by tilting their head back.


breathing-icon B - Check for Breathing

 Look, listen and feel for breathing

 Not breathing normally - start CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).

 Breathing normally - place the person in the recovery position on their side with their airway open and head tilted back. Monitor breathing.


cpr-icon C - Start CPR

 Give 30 chest compressions followed by 2 breaths.

 Continue CPR (30:2) until medical help arrives, the injured person recovers, or you are physically unable to continue.



defibrillator-icon D - Apply Defibrillator (if available) as soon as possible.

 Turn on device. Follow defibrillator's voice prompts - once defibrillator applied to injured person, do not remove until instructed to do so by medical  personnel.



NOTE: The information above is current as of August 2015 and has been kindly adapted with permission from the Australian Red Cross. The information on this web page does not replace first aid training. The Australian Red Cross recommends that everyone is trained in first aid.

defibrillator-iconWhat is an Automated External Defibrillator (AED)?

 Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a portable device that automatically checks and analyses the heart rhythm. If it detects a problem, it may advise an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm. An AED will not deliver a shock unless it detects a shockable heart rhythm, and then only when the operator pushes the shock button.

AEDs may significantly improve the chance of survival for a patient of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). Many models are available across the campuses and within the community; however, they are all designed for ease of use for inexperienced persons. Simply turn on the machine and follow the prompts. The AED will monitor the heart rhythm; advise the operator if a problem is detected with the connection or with the patient, advise when a shock is recommended and guide the operator to deliver the shock.

AED placement and locations

An initial assessment was conducted to determine that AEDs would be positioned strategically across the various campuses to provide reasonable and easy access if and when required. AED locations will be evaluated during annual audits by the Safety, Emergency and Wellbeing (SEW) team. Each AED has been assigned to an area and corresponding Pro Vice-Chancellor.

A request for an additional AED shall be in accordance with the AED Request Form (Appendix 2). Requests will be evaluated by the SEW team.

Use of an AED

  • Follow DRSABCD
  • Call/have someone call 000
  • Call Security
    • Alice Springs 5444
    • Casuarina 777
    • Darwin Waterfront 888
    • Katherine Rural Campus 8311/8314
    • Katherine Town Centre 5900
    • Palmerston 7888
  • Commence CPR as required
  • Have someone bring you the nearest AED
  • Turn on the AED by opening the lid and following the prompts
  • Do not use on a conductive surface (e.g. water or on a metal surface)
  • Expose the person's chest - this may include cutting clothes or removing a bra or singlet
  • Shave the person's chest if hairy with the razor provided
  • Wipe dry the person's chest prior to placing pads on their chest
  • Open the pouch containing the pads and peel off their liners
  • Place the AED pads on the person's bare chest as shown on the back of the pads
  • Avoid placing the pads on loose metal jewellery or piercings
  • Follow the prompts - cease CPR and stand clear if the AED announces a shock is required
  • Respect the victim's dignity and privacy e.g. keep the crowd back, don't allow videos or photos and try to cordon off the area
  • Keep the AED connected to the patient until the ambulance arrives


To aid in maintaining all AEDs in a state of readiness, all AED equipment and accessories shall be inspected monthly and after every use, by the responsible Area/Department. The Pro-Vice-Chancellors shall be responsible for maintaining this process in their areas.

All AED equipment and consumables are the responsibility of the individual Area/Department. The SEW team can offer advice in regards to recommended models and local consumables availability.

Record keeping

The Pro Vice-Chancellor of each Area/Department shall maintain inspection records.
The SEW team will maintain a register of all AEDs across Charles Darwin University campuses.
The SEW team will conduct annual area assessments, during which they will request to view the inspection records.

Can I use a defibrillator on a child?

A standard AED may be used on a child approximately 8 years old and above. If the AED does not have a paediatric mode or pads, then standard adult AED pads can be used. Ensure pads do not touch each other on the child's chest. This may require one pad to be placed on the centre of the chest and the other one, on the centre of the back.

NOTE: Almost all infants and young children who are not breathing and responsive are more likely to be in respiratory arrest. CPR should not be interrupted during the preparation for defibrillation.

For more information see AED Guide.

For an unconscious person who is breathing - emergency

  1. Check breathing by tilting their head backwards and looking and feeling for breaths - when a person is unconscious, their muscles relax and their tongue can block their airway so they can no longer breathe. Tilting their head back opens the airway by pulling the tongue forward. Looking at their chest to see if it is moving and feeling for breaths on your cheek, will help you tell if they are breathing or not.
  2. Move the person onto their side (recovery position) and tilt their head back - putting them in this position with their head back helps keep the airway open by making sure their tongue falls forward and blood, vomit or other fluids can drain out.
  3. Call 000 as soon as possible or get someone else to do it for you.
  4. Continually check the person's condition until medical aid arrives. If the person stops breathing, turn them on their back and immediately start chest compressions/CPR.
  5. Manage any bleeding, injuries and shock.

A person who is unconscious but breathing - general

How do I treat a baby who is unconscious and breathing?

Place them in the recovery position by cradling them in your arms on their side with their head titled back. Call 000 or get someone else to do it for you.

If I think the person has a back or neck injury, should I still turn them on their side?

If you suspect a back or neck injury, it is still advisable to move the person onto their side if possible. Your priority is to keep the person breathing. Try to keep their spine in a straight line when turning them. If possible, get someone else to help you turn them.

What should I do if someone is feeling faint?

If someone is feeling faint, advise them to lie down on their back and raise their legs to improve the blood flow to the brain. Fainting is caused by a temporary reduction in the flow of blood to the brain and can result in a brief loss of consciousness. A person who has fainted should quickly regain consciousness. If they don't, treat them as an unconscious person.

A person who is unconscious and not breathing - emergency

  1. Check breathing by tilting their head backwards and looking and feeling for breaths - when a person is unconscious, their muscles relax and their tongue can block their airway, so they can no longer breathe. Tilting their head back opens the airway by pulling the tongue toward the front. Looking at their chest to see if it is moving and feeling for breaths on your cheek, will help you tell if they are breathing or not.
  2.  Call 000 as soon as possible or get someone else to do it for you. If breaths are felt, follow the 'unconscious but breathing' procedures.
  3. If no breaths are felt, start chest compressions. Place the heel of one hand on the centre of the chest and the heel of the other hand on top of the first, lacing your fingers together.
  4. Push firmly downwards in the middle of the chest (on the sternum) and then release. Push hard and fast - these are called chest compressions.  You should position yourself to the side of the person's chest on your knees. Position yourself vertically above the person's chest and depress about one third (1/3) of the chest depth. Keep your arms straight. This keeps the blood pumping around their body and helps keep the vital organs, including the brain, alive and may dislodge an airway obstruction.
  5. Complete 30 compressions at a rate of approximately 100 compressions per minute until  more qualified help arrives - let the chest rise completely before pushing down again. Compressions and release should take equal amounts of time.

Remember, you should only stop CPR when:

  • the person begins breathing
  • more qualified help arrives
  • you are physically unable to continue.

A person who is unconscious and not breathing - general

How long should I do chest compressions for?

You should keep going until medical or more qualified help arrives. If there is someone else who can help, change over every two minutes, with minimum interruption to chest compressions.

What if I am on my own when I find someone unconscious and not breathing?

If you are on your own, call 000 before you start chest compressions.

Remember, you should only stop CPR when:

  • the person begins breathing
  • more qualified help arrives to take over
  • you are physically unable to continue.

Will I break their ribs?

You might, but don't worry about this. Remember, your priority is to keep the blood circulating. A damaged rib will mend, but without delivering chest compressions, the person's chances of survival are significantly reduced.

Aren't I supposed to do mouth to mouth too?

If you feel able and want to, you can combine chest compressions with breathing into their mouth or nose. However, giving chest compressions is the most important because their blood already has some oxygen in it and the compressions will keep that blood pumping about their body, taking oxygen to their brain. Breathing into their mouth or nose adds oxygen in their lungs.

The combination of continuous cycles of 30 chest compressions followed by two breaths is called CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).

How do I do mouth to mouth/rescue breaths?

If you feel able to, after about 30 pushes/compressions on their chest, you can give 2 steady breaths into their mouth or nose.

Seal your mouth over their mouth* or nose, closing the other, and blow air into them with two breaths to inflate the lungs.

On a baby (under 1 year old) you need to seal your mouth around both their nose and mouth because their faces are so small and blow gently (a puff) to inflate the lungs.

*Always think of the safety of both yourself and the person you are giving mouth to mouth to. If possible, ensure you use a laerdal mask or some other appropriate protective barrier when giving mouth to mouth to prevent the possible spread of germs and to avoid contact with body fluids.

Will I restart the heart if I give chest compressions?

The chance of restarting the heart by chest compressions alone is very low. To restart, a heart usually needs an electric shock from a defibrillator. Chest compressions pump a small amount of blood around the body to keep the organs - most importantly the brain - alive.

You may not see any visible change in the person's condition, but don't give up.

Chest compressions significantly increase the possibility of the person being successfully resuscitated when the emergency services turn up.

What should I do if someone has been in a drowning accident and is unconscious and not breathing?

Do not enter the water unless you are specifically trained to perform in-water rescues.

Get help from a trained responder such as a lifeguard, to get the person out of the water as quickly and as safely as possible.

Then, if the person is not breathing, you will have to give proper care - this entails giving rescue breaths/mouth to mouth in addition to chest compressions to build up a supply of oxygen in the blood.

After about 30 compressions to their chest, give two steady breaths into their mouth or nose. To do this, seal your mouth over over either their mouth or nose and seal the other and blow air into the person with two steady breaths.

Continue this cycle of 30 compressions followed by two breaths (30:2) until more qualified help arrives, the person responds, or until you can no longer physically continue.

Allergies or anaphylaxis - emergency

  1. The person may develop a rash, itchiness or swelling on their hands, feet or face. Their breathing may slow down.
  2. When you observe these symptoms, call 000.
  3. If the person has a known allergy and has an auto-injector Epipen/Anapen, you can help them use it. Give them constant reassurance while waiting for the ambulance.

Allergies or anaphylaxis - general

What is an anaphylactic reaction?

An anaphylactic reaction is the most severe type of allergic reaction. It happens when a person with an allergy is exposed to an 'allergen'. These may include such things as pollens, nuts, dairy, medications, shellfish, some insect bites, stings and latex.

What are some of the symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction?

  • Itchy rash on parts of their body
  • Lips, face and eyes can become swollen
  • They may have difficulty breathing
  • Their tongue might be swollen
  • They may have a tightness in their throat
  • They may have difficulty talking
  • They might vomit or have diarrhoea

What is an auto-injector Epipen/Anapen?

Once a person is identified as having an allergy, the doctor may give them an auto-injector for emergencies. It helps to deliver a dose of adrenaline to ease the symptoms of severe allergic reaction. Sometimes people have an individual management plan for first aiders to follow.

Asthma - emergency

  1. Help the person sit in a comfortable position and take their medication (if they don't have their medication or their asthma becomes severe call 000).
  2. Reassure the person.
  3. A mild attack should ease within a few minutes after their medication. If after four minutes their condition doesn't improve, call 000 and repeat medication dosage using one puff and four breaths repeated four times.

Asthma - general

What is an asthma attack?

When someone has an asthma attack or flare-up, the small airways that go into the person's lungs constrict (become smaller). This happens as a result of the airway lining swelling, the muscles in the airway tightening and also a build-up of mucous. Using a reliever inhaler medication helps open the airways and ease the person's breathing.

How can I tell if someone is having an asthma attack?

People with asthma manage their condition and should be able to let you know if they are having an attack. They will have difficulty breathing and speaking, and may cough and wheeze. A person having an attack or flare-up may be very anxious and distressed as they struggle to breathe. In some cases their lips may turn greyish-blue and their chest and throat sucks in because they can't breathe and there isn't enough oxygen in their body.

What if they don't have their inhaler?

You should call 000 immediately for an ambulance.

When should I call 000?

Call 000 if any of the following apply:

  • It is their first attack
  • They stop breathing
  • They are known to have anaphylaxis
  • Their condition suddenly worsens
  • Their medication has no effect
  • They don't have any medication with them.

Bites and stings - quick reference guide

Hot Water

Cold compress/ icepack

Pressure bandage and immobilisation


Blue-bottle jellyfish (Pacific Man-O-War)AntsSnakesBox jellyfish
StingrayBeesFunnel-web spiderIrukandji jellyfish
StonefishScorpionsBlue-ringed octopusJimble jellyfish
CatfishCentipedesCone shellsTropical Marine stings of unknown origin
Bullrout fishRed-backed spiderSea snakes
Crown-of-Thorns starfishTicksMouse spider
Non-tropical minor jellyfishAll other spiders
Wasps (European)

 First Aid Management

Hot water

  2. Place the person's stung limb in hot water (as hot as you, the First Aider can tolerate).
  3. Ensure an ambulance has been called (000).

Cold compress/icepack

  1. Apply a cold compress or wrapped ice pack directly over the bite site to relieve pain.
  2. Seek medical aid as necessary. 

Pressure bandage and immobilisation

  2. Calm the person.
  3. Apply pressure bandage and keep the person still (immobilisation).
  4. Ensure an ambulance has been called (000).


  2. Calm the person.
  3. Flood the stung area with vinegar for at least 30 seconds.
  4. If vinegar not available, flick tentacles off using a stick or gloved fingers.
  5. Ensure an ambulance has been called (000). 

Bleeding - emergency

  1. Put direct pressure on the wound with whatever is available to stop or slow down the flow of blood.
  2. If the bleeding is severe, call 000 as soon as possible, or get someone else to do it.
  3. Keep pressure on the wound until help arrives.

Bleeding - general

Why do I need to put direct pressure on the wound?

To stop or slow down the flow of blood. By applying direct pressure to the wound you are acting as a plug to stop the blood from escaping. The pressure you provide will help the blood clot and stop the bleeding. If possible, also elevate the injury and keep it still.

What can I use to put pressure on the wound?

Use anything available to you - it doesn't need to be dressing pads from a first aid kit. You can use your hand, their hand, a t-shirt, a towel - anything that can be put over the wound to stop or slow down the flow of blood.

What do I do if the bleeding soaks through the item I've used?

Do not remove it but add more items - such as a t-shirt or towel - and maintain firm pressure.

Should I apply a tourniquet to a wound that is severely bleeding?

Direct pressure methods should be used for serious bleeds. Use a tourniquet only if all other dressing attempts have failed to stop the bleeding.

Broken Bones - emergency

  1. Encourage the person to support the injury with their hand, or use a cushion or items of clothing to prevent unnecessary movement.
  2. If the injury area is obviously deformed, significantly painful, or they cannot be moved, call 000 or get someone else to do it for you.
  3. Make sure the injury is supported until help arrives.

Broken Bones - general

Why should the injury be supported?

Supporting the injury may relieve pain and prevent further damage. When supporting the injury, try not to place direct pressure on/over what you believe to be the broken bone. You may also need to control bleeding if it occurs.

How can I tell if someone has a broken bone?

The person may have bruising, pain and swelling, or be lying in an unnatural position. In severe cases, the limb may be deformed and/or have a bone protruding from the skin.

How do I support a broken bone?

Do not move it unnecessarily. If you can, place soft padding (clothing, blankets etc.) around the limb to align it, but do not force it.

Burns - emergency

  1. Cool the burn under cool, running water for at least 20 minutes.
  2. If the burn requires further medical care, loosely cover the burn with plastic wrap or a clean plastic bag. Otherwise it does not need plastic covering.
  3. If necessary, call 000 or get someone else to do it for you.

    Burns - general

    Why use cool running water on a burn?

    Cooling the burn will reduce pain, swelling and the risk of scarring. The sooner and longer running water is applied to a burn, the less damage the burn will do.

    Why should I cover a burn with plastic wrap?

    Covering a burn with clean plastic wrap helps prevent infection by keeping the area clean. It's an ideal covering because it doesn't stick to the burn and may reduce pain by keeping air from the skin's surface.

    How do I know I should call 000 about a burn?

    Always call 000 if:

    • a child has been burned
    • the burn blisters
    • affects more than one area of the body
    • covers hands, feet, joints or face or
    • if underlying tissues are visible.

    What things shouldn't I apply to a burn?

    Never use:

    • Butter, cream or any other oils - all oils retain heat and you want to cool the burn. If later the oil needs to be removed this can cause further pain and damage.
    • Ice - ice may further damage the skin.
    • Crepe bandages or gauze - any lint or fabric-based dressing over a burn will stick to the skin and may cause further damage.

    If clothes are stuck to the burn, should I try to remove them?

    No. Remove any clothing or jewellery near the burned area, but don't try to remove anything that's stuck to the burn. This could cause more damage.

    Choking - emergency

    1. For an adult or a child*, who cannot breathe due to a full obstruction of the airway, hit them firmly on their back between the shoulder blades using an open flat hand, in a slightly upward motion up to five times to dislodge the object.
    2. Check between each blow if the object has been dislodged. If it is still stuck, give five quick chest thrusts between each blow checking that the object has not been dislodged.
    3. Call 000 if there is:
    • an altered level of consciousness
    • voice changes
    • significant manoeuvres to clear the airway are required, or
    • you are concerned.

    *Note: for infants (under 1 year old), keep their head lower than their chest, supporting their head and neck (best to drape them over your knee). Then give five back blows between the shoulder blades and five chest thrusts, centre of chest just below nipple line. Repeat until the object is forced out or the infant can be heard to cry.

    Partial obstruction procedures

    1. If the person has a partial obstruction (i.e. they can still breathe and/or talk, but it is obvious that something is stuck in their throat), encourage them to cough and assist them into a head down position (e.g.  bending over or leaning over a chair)

    Caution! If someone has a partial obstruction and you do back blows straight away, there is a good chance of a partial obstruction becoming a complete obstruction.

    Choking - general

    How do I administer chest thrusts?

    Lean the adult forward, (babies can be positioned face down on your lap with head supported). Position the base of your palm on the wide bone in the centre of their chest (two fingers for babies). Apply five sharp thrusts, checking for a response after each.

    Diabetic emergency

    1. If the person is conscious*, give them something containing sugar to eat (such as a lolly), or a non-diet drink.
    2. Reassure the person.
    3. Most people will gradually improve, but if you are in doubt, the person is breathing fast, is pale or sweating, or if they become unconscious, call 000.

    Note: Do not try to give an unconscious person food or drink as this can compromise their airway. To know if it is ok to give them something to eat or drink - if the person can talk (even if it doesn't make sense) then it is usually ok to give them sips of a sugary drink or some lollies and encourage them to chew/swallow. If the person is unresponsive and/or drooling, then don't give them anything by mouth.

    Diabetic - general

    What is diabetes?

    Diabetes is a medical condition that affects blood sugar levels. Normally, people's bodies maintain the ideal blood sugar levels automatically. When a person has diabetes, their body fails to maintain the blood sugar balance, so they need to manage it through diet, tablets or insulin injections.

    What are the symptoms of a diabetic emergency?

    Symptoms may vary, but common ones include:

    • Hunger
    • Thirst
    • Convulsions
    • Clammy Skin
    • Profuse sweating
    • Drowsiness or confusion
    • Weakness or feeling faint
    • Sudden loss of consciousness

    How should I decide when to call an ambulance?

    Call for an ambulance if the person does not improve after giving them sugar, they are unconscious, or if you are not sure.


    1. Show you are listening and calmly ask them how you can help.
    2. Be considerate of what is going on around them and what they need.

    Remember - the person may have difficulty letting you know what they need, for example, they may not speak English very well, they may be traumatised after an accident, or they may have a hearing impairment.

    Head injury - emergency

    1. Ask the person to rest and apply a cold compress to the injury (e.g. ice or frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel).
    2. If they become confused, drowsy, vomit, are taking blood thinning medication, or if the fall was greater than two metres, call 000 immediately or get someone else to do it for you.

    Head injury - general

    Why is it important to get medical help after a head injury?

    Significant blows to the head need to be assessed by a health-care professional. With any blow to the head, the person's brain can be shaken inside the skull (which is called concussion). This can lead to further complications (such as swelling and bleeding of the brain) and even death. Always err on the side of caution.

    What is concussion?

    If the person suffers a blow to the head, the brain can be shaken inside the skull. This is called concussion. It tends to result in a short loss of consciousness or confusion (a few seconds to a few minutes). Most people make a full recovery from a concussion, but occasionally it may become more serious. A person does not need to "black out" or lose consciousness to have a concussion. If you think someone may have concussion, call 000.

    Should I watch a person with head injury?

    Yes. With all head injuries you should watch the person to see if their situation changes. If you see a change in behaviour, vomiting, loss of consciousness, persistent headache or change in vision, call 000 immediately. Sometimes after a head injury, you may not see any symptoms immediately.

    What are the symptoms of concussion?

    Symptoms of concussion include:

    • Dizziness
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Headache
    • Confusion
    • Feeling sick
    • Blurred vision
    • Having no memory of what happened

    How does a cold compress work?

    A cold compress reduces the swelling and lessens the pain of the injury.

    How long should I use a cold compress for?

    Use a cold compress for no more than 20 minutes, then take it off for 10 minutes. Repeat until the swelling goes down or the person says it feels uncomfortable.

    Can I give a person with a head injury painkillers for their headache?

    No. Painkillers are not advised because they can mask the signs and symptoms of a serious head injury.

    How do I know whether to call an ambulance?

    If the person:

    • becomes confused and tired
    • feels or is sick
    • is unable to respond to your questions
    • loses consciousness
    • has a headache
    • has vision issues
    • if their pupils don't seem to respond to light
    • if there is a yellowish straw-like fluid and/or blood coming out of any orifice (nose, ears, mouth) or,
    • you are just not sure - call 000.

    Heart attack - emergency

    1. The person may have persistent vice-like chest pain* or isolated unexplained discomfort in their arms, neck, jaw, back or stomach. They may also experience breathlessness, sweating and feeling unwell.
    2. Call 000 immediately or get someone else to do it for you. All unrelieved chest pain should be considered a cardiac emergency until proven otherwise.
    3. Make sure the person is in a position that is comfortable for them (e.g. sit them on the floor, leaning against a wall or chair**) and offer them aspirin - if directed by the emergency operator or emergency responders, if available and if they are not allergic.
    4. Give them constant reassurance while waiting for the ambulance.

    *This pain is caused by a blockage of the blood supply to the heart muscle and the pain will not ease with rest.

    **This will ease the strain on the heart. Sitting the person on the floor also means they are less likely to hurt themselves if they collapse.

    Heart attack - general

    What is a heart attack?

    A heart attack happens when the blood supply to the heart muscle is suddenly blocked. The blockage means the heart can't work effectively, so a heart attack can be fatal. The severity of the heart attack depends on the size of the area of heart muscle affected.

    What is the difference between heart attack and cardiac arrest?

    A heart attack happens when the blood supply to the heart muscle is suddenly blocked however, it may still pump blood at a lower rate.

    Cardiac arrest is when the heart stops completely, causing the person to collapse, lose consciousness and stop breathing. It may be caused by a heart attack.

    Heat stroke - emergency

    1. The person's skin may be hot or red and may also be dry or moist; they may be experiencing changes in consciousness, as well as vomiting and a high body temperature. This is heat stroke and it is life-threatening.
    2. Call 000 as soon as possible, or get someone else to do it for you.
    3. Move the person to a cooler place. Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fan the person. If they are conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink. Make sure they drink slowly.
    4. Watch for changes in the person's condition.
    5. If needed, continue rapid cooling by applying ice or cold packs wrapped in a cloth to the wrists, ankles, groin, neck and armpits.

    Heat stroke - general

    What is the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke?

    Heat exhaustion typically involves the loss of body fluids through heavy sweating during strenuous exercise or physical labour in high heat and humid conditions.

    Heat stroke (also known as sunstroke) is a life-threatening condition in which a person's temperature control system stops working and the body is unable to cool itself.

    What are heat cramps?

    Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms that usually occur in the legs or abdomen caused by exposure to high heat and humidity and loss of fluids and electrolytes. Heat cramps are often an early sign that the body is having trouble with the heat.

    How do you treat heat cramps?

    If someone is experiencing heat cramps in the legs or abdomen, get them to a cooler place, have them rest, lightly stretch the affected muscle and replenish their fluids with half a glass of cool water every 15 minutes.

    Hypothermia - emergency

    1. The person may be shivering, pale and cold to touch. They may also be disoriented.
    2. As soon as possible call 000 or get someone else to do it for you.
    3. Warm the person slowly (e.g. with a blanket) and if they're conscious, give them small sips of a warm drink or soup by mouth.

    Note: An unconscious person suffering from hypothermia is in a life threatening condition. Get medical help as soon as possible (call 000). Rewarming someone with hypothermia must be very gradual and the person needs to be handled very gently.

    Hypothermia - general

    What is hypothermia?

    Hypothermia is when a person's core temperature falls below the level for normal body functions, resulting in a reduction of circulation of blood around the body - particularly to their skin.

    Many instances of hypothermia occur inside when there is cold weather and a lack of heating but can also occur in warm environments.

    What are the symptoms of hypothermia?

    The person may be shivering, pale and cold to touch. They may also be disorientated and too cold to shiver. Their breathing rate may become slower and their temperature will be below 35 degrees Celsius.

    What should I do if the person is outside?

    If the person is outside, get them inside if you can and replace any wet clothes with dry ones. Wrap the person in a blanket, extra clothes, newspaper or cardboard for example, to keep them warm.

    Meningitis - emergency

    1. The person will complain of a stiff neck. They may also have flu-like symptoms, muscle and joint pain, a headache, a high temperature and be sensitive to light*.
    2. When you observe these symptoms, call 000.
    3. Give them constant reassurance while waiting for the ambulance.

    *Other symptoms include cold hands and feet, drowsiness and vomiting. A person with meningitis can have one or more symptoms and some symptoms occur later as the infection develops.

    Meningitis - general

    What is meningitis?

    Meningitis is a disorder in which the linings that surround the brain and spinal cord swell up. It can be caused by different types of bacteria or viruses and can happen to anyone at any age.

    Should I wait for all the symptoms to appear before phoning 000?

    No. You should call 000 as soon as you suspect it may be meningitis. Do not wait for all the symptoms to appear. Immediate treatment is the best way to limit the damage caused by meningitis.

    Will the symptoms be different for a baby?

    Infants may have any of the same symptoms as those described above. In addition, they may also have a high-pitched cry or may be more floppy or drowsy. The soft part on the top of their head may become hard or bulging.

    Poisoning and harmful substances - emergency

    1. Establish what the person has taken, when and how much.
    2. As soon as possible, call the Poisons Information Line on 131 126 or get someone else to do it for you. Follow their instructions and call 000 if there is a change in behaviour, the person becomes unconscious or is having difficulty breathing.
    3. Do not make the person sick or give them anything to drink unless advised to do so by the Poisons Information Line.

    Poisoning or harmful substances - general

    What are poisons and harmful substances?

    Drugs (prescription or non-prescription drugs), chemicals (including household cleaning products) and some plants can be harmful if you swallow them.

    How can I tell if someone has taken poison or another harmful substance?

    They may vomit and have abdominal pain. There may also be empty containers nearby.

    Why shouldn't I make the person sick?

    Making them vomit can cause more damage to the throat or block their airway. If they have swallowed something corrosive, the liquid will burn the throat on the way back up, causing more pain and distress.

    Seizure or epilepsy - emergency

    1. Do not restrain the person. Use something like a blanket or clothing next to their head to protect it from injury. Do not place it under their head. Placing items under their head may compromise the airway and interfere with their breathing. Remove any dangerous items from the person or if necessary try to move the person away from danger.
    2. After the seizure, help the person to rest on their side with their head tilted back.
    3. If necessary, call 000 or get someone else to do it for you.

    Seizure or epilepsy - general

    How do I know if a person has epilepsy?

    You may find some form of identification on the person e.g. a card, a bracelet or necklace, that will give you information about their condition. If you can't find anything and are unsure if they have a history of seizures, call an ambulance.

    When should I call an ambulance?

    Always call 000 unless you are following specific advice on their individual management plan.

    Should I try to keep their tongue forward or put something in their mouth to stop them biting themselves?

    No. Do not go anywhere near the mouth or put anything in the mouth of a person having a seizure. This may injure both of you. You should simply make the area safe and prevent injury by removing items that may cause the person harm, and wait for the seizure to run its full course.

    Shock - emergency

    1. Follow D.R.S.A.B.C.D. (Basic Life Support procedures) call 000 or get someone to do it for you.
    2. Lie the person down - reassure and calm them.
    3. Raise the person's legs (unless fractured or snake bitten) - above the level of the heart, with head flat on the floor.
    4. Treat any other injuries.
    5. Maintain the person's body warmth - don't let them get chilled or overheated.
    6. Monitor the person regularly.
    7. Ensure the ambulance has been called (000).

    Shock - general

    What are the signs and symptoms of shock?

    • Weak, rapid pulse
    • Cold, clammy skin
    • Rapid breathing
    • Faintness, dizziness, nausea
    • Pale face, fingernails and/or lips

    What can cause shock?

    Shock is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body is not getting enough blood flow. Lack of blood flow means that the cells and organs do not get enough oxygen and nutrients to function properly. Multiple organs can suffer damage as a result. Shock requires immediate medical treatment and can get worse very rapidly.

    Shock can be caused by any condition that reduces blood flow, including:

    • Heart problems (such as heart attack or heart failure)
    • Low blood volume (as with heavy bleeding or dehydration)
    • Changes in blood vessels (as with infection or severe allergic reactions)
    • Certain medications that significantly reduce heart function or blood pressure

    Shock is often associated with heavy external or internal bleeding from a serious injury. Spinal injuries can also cause shock.


    Strains and sprains - emergency

    1. Remember R.I.C.E.R.

    Rest and apply Ice to the injured area. Apply a Compression bandage. Elevate the injured part if possible and Refer to a medical practitioner.

     2.  If there is no improvement - seek medical advice.

    R.I.C.E.R: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevate, Refer - is for general care for injuries to muscles, bones and joints.

    • Rest - Don't move or straighten the injured area.
    • Ice - Apply a wrapped ice-pack directly to the injury for about 20 minutes and then give the person a 1 hour break to allow circulation to return, then repeat.
    • Compression - Apply a compression bandage to stabilise.
    • Elevate, Refer - Elevate the injured part only if it does not cause more pain. Refer the person for further medical advice.

    Sprains and Strains - general

    How can I tell if someone has a sprain or strain?

    Strains and sprains are common injuries where there has been a sudden unusual movement to part of the body. The person may have pain, swelling and/or bruising around a joint or muscle. If the injury is at the joint, the person may have difficulty moving the limb.

    Should I call an ambulance?

    Most sprains and strains will respond to rest and cooling the injury. If you suspect that the bone is broken, if they are unable to walk, if the limb is angled, or if the pain is severe, then the person should go to the hospital.

    What is the difference between a sprain and a strain?

    A strain is when a muscle is damaged. A sprain is when a joint, such as a knees, ankle or wrist is damaged.

    Stroke - emergency

    1. Think F.A.S.T.
      is there weakness on one side of the face?
      can they raise both arms?
      is their speech easily understood?
      to call 000
    2. Immediately call 000 or get someone else to do it for you.
    3. Talk to the person to reassure them while you wait for the ambulance.

    Stroke - general

    What causes a stroke?

    Strokes are caused by a disruption of the blood supply to the brain. Part of the brain becomes damaged and this can affect people's appearance, bodily functions, speech and sight.

    What other symptoms do stroke victims have?

    Symptoms may include:

    • Dribbling
    • Numbness
    • Blurred vision
    • A sudden severe headache
    • Difficulty maintaining balance
    • Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
    • Difficulty expressing themselves or understanding other people

    Why does a stroke tend to affect only one side of the body?

    One half of the brain controls one side of the body while the other half controls the other side. Since disruption of blood flow to the brain generally involves only one side of the brain, only one side of the body is affected.

    Further information