If someone collapses and stops breathing near you, what would you do?

Basic first aid skills can be the difference between life and death before medical help arrives, so it’s vital you know what to do in a crisis.

If you know how to act in an emergency you could save someone’s life

It’s really important to learn first aid, we are not asking people to make things complicated or become doctors or paramedics, but it’s about learning a few simple skills so you can act in that situation and know that you have done the best possible thing to help.

Nobody knows when they might need first aid, a lot of situations are very quick and very sudden and you need to be able to think on your feet and act quickly and calmly.

Here we reveal what you need to know, in the case of seven different types of emergency…

  1. Bleeding heavily

If someone has had an accident or cut themselves badly, the first thing you need to do is apply pressure to the wound to help stop the bleeding.

You can use whatever is around, a jumper, a blanket, a towel, to apply firm pressure to create a plug to slow the bleeding.

The next step is to call 112 and continue holding pressure on the wound until help arrives. Whatever you’ve got to hand, whether that is a T-shirt or a scarf or a towel can be used to apply really firm pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding. It is really important to stop them losing too much blood. It is a life-threatening injury and if people don’t apply pressure then someone could die.

  1. Collapsed and not breathing

If someone is unresponsive and not breathing you need to call 112 as soon as possible and begin CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation). The most likely cause of this is a cardiac arrest.

A cardiac arrest, also known as cardiopulmonary arrest, happens when your heart suddenly stops pumping blood around your body – and is different from a heart attack.


What is the difference between cardiac arrest and a heart attack? The definitions, symptoms, signs and what to do, someone who has had a cardiac arrest will collapse unconscious. Their breathing will be irregular and may stop, and they will be unresponsive.

To begin CPR, place the heel of your hand in the center of the person’s chest, then place your other hand on top and interlock your fingers. Make sure you have positioned your body so your shoulders are directly above your hands.

Begin compression using your body weight, pushing about 2 – 2.5 inches into their chest Repeat at a rate of 100 to 120 times per minute.

“And if you are in a public place you could find the automated external defibrillator (AED) to help the person.

  1. Suspected heart attack

In contrast to a cardiac arrest, a heart attack is when one of the coronary arteries becomes blocked. The heart muscle is then robbed of vital oxygenated blood, which if left untreated, can cause the heart muscle to begin to die. Like a cardiac arrest, a heart attack is a life-threatening emergency. You need to call 112 immediately.

You should also make sure the person is comfortable and try to keep them calm while the ambulance arrives. If you suspect someone is having a heart attack get them to sit down and rest while you call for an ambulance.

If someone is having a heart attack then that can lead to a cardiac arrest but in the first stages, they will be presenting as someone who is still awake and still talking.

But they may have really severe chest pain that can go up into their jaw, down there and into their stomach, they might also be very pale and sweaty.

  1. Choking

If someone is choking they may clutch their throat or chest while gasping for air. They won’t be able to speak to tell you what is wrong, so you have to act quickly.

Stand behind them and bend them forward before giving them five firm blows between the shoulder blades, known as back blows, to try and dislodge whatever is choking them.

If this doesn’t work you need to try the Heimlich manoeuvre.


How to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre on YOURSELF to save your own life. Place your arms around the choking person from behind and pull upwards and inwards on the abdomen below the rib cage. The pressure from this movement can force out whatever is blocking the airway, allowing the patient to breathe again.

Call 112 if the object doesn’t shift and continue using back blows and the Heimlich manoeuvre until an ambulance arrives.

Back blows create a vibration within their airway which will hopefully push the object that they are choking on out. The back blows need to be firm so there is enough force to generate that vibration within the airway. If it is a small child, you would moderate the amount of force you are using.


Step 1. Give your baby five back blows Hold your baby face down, resting them on your thigh with their head lower than their bottom. Hit them firmly on their back between the shoulder blades up to five times. If back blows don’t dislodge the object, move on to step two.

Step 2. Give up to five chest thrusts Turn your baby over so they are facing upwards and place two fingers in the middle of their chest just below the nipples. Push sharply downwards up to five times.

Step 3. Call 112 if the object does not dislodge And continue with cycles of back blows and chest thrusts until the blockage clears or help arrives.

  1. Unresponsive but breathing

If someone passes out in front of you, the first thing you should do is check to see if they are still breathing. You can do this by tilting their head back and feeling for breaths. If they are breathing you need to move them onto their side and tilt their head back to open their airways. You should also check that nothing is obstructing their airways.

Call 112 as soon as you can and wait with them while help arrives.

It is really important to get them in a position where their airway is clear, on their side is perfect because their tongue will fall forward and anything in their mouth will drain out. While they are in that position you should be reassuring them and talking to them, even if they can’t hear you and keep checking their breathing until help gets to you.”

  1. Taken a fall

If you or a loved one trip over, and suffer a sprain or strain, first things first – apply an ice pack.

This could even be just a bag of frozen veggies, but just remember to wrap it in a towel.  This will help reduce the swelling and pain. If you suspect it’s more than a strain or sprain, and could be broken, it’s important to seek medical advice.

If we are talking about a broken bone, the key thing to look out for is the pain in the limb, the limb might be a different shape or they can’t move or bend it and also swell and bruising.

Broken bones are difficult to diagnose without an x-ray, so if you are unsure treat it like a broken bone until you can get to a hospital.

  1. Burns

Cool the burn under cold running water for at least ten minutes. If you’re out and don’t have water on hand, you can use any cold liquid, think milk, orange juice, even a fizzy drink.

Then loosely wrap the burn in some cling film or a clean plastic bag. This will reduce the pain and help prevent infection. If your baby or child has been burned, seek medical attention straight away.

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