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First Aid

        Health | First Aid

First Aid ABCs

If a victim is unconscious, your first priority is to check that their Airway is open, that they are Breathing, and that they have a pulse or other signs of Circulation, such as movement, groaning, or coughing -- these are the ABCs of emergency first-aid.

First Aid ABCs
Check that the airway is open, the victim is
breathing and that there are signs of circulation.

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Check Airway
  1. If victim is facedown, gently roll victim onto their back. Place one hand on the back of victim's neck and other on hip, and gently roll victim over onto back. If back or neck injury suspected, enlist aid of others to keep victim's head, neck, and back aligned as you roll victim over.

    First Aid ABCs
    Ask others for help if you cannot roll the
    victim over by yourself.

  2. Open victim's airway using head-tilt (even if you suspect back or neck injury):

    First Aid ABCs
    Use a head-tilt to open
    the airway.

    -Kneel by victim's side, place one of your hands on victim's forehead, and gently tilt victim's head back.

    -Place fingers of your other hand on bony part of victim's chin -- not on throat.

    -Gently lift chin straight up without closing mouth.

Check for Breathing and Circulation

  1. With victim's airway open, look, listen, and feel for breathing for 5-10 seconds by placing your cheek near victim's mouth and watching for chest to rise and fall.

    First Aid ABCs
    Check for signs of breathing.

  2. Check for signs of circulation, such as movement, groaning, or coughing.

  3. If victim is not breathing but has signs of circulation, go to rescue breathing. If victim is not breathing and has no signs of circulation, go to CPR.

Rescue Breathing

If adult stops breathing but still has signs of circulation, call for EMS, then begin Rescue Breathing.

If child or infant stops breathing but has signs of circulation, perform Rescue Breathing for 2 minutes before calling for EMS. Then resume Rescue Breathing.

Emergency Treatment, Infant:

    First Aid ABCs
    Cover the infants nose and mouth with
    your mouth and give two short puffs.

  1. Place your mouth over infant's nose and mouth.

  2. Give 2 gentle puffs.

  3. If no exchange of air, reposition infant's head and retry.

  4. Look, listen, and feel for breathing and circulation (see ABCs) for no more than 10 seconds.

  5. If victim remains unconscious and:
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    -if there are signs of circulation but no breathing, continue giving 1 breath every 5 seconds for child and 1 gentle puff every 3 seconds for infant.

    -if there is no breathing or signs of circulation, go to CPR.
Emergency Treatment, Child or Adult:

    First Aid ABCs
    Look, listen and feel for breathing.

  1. Pinch victim's nose closed with your fingers, and place your mouth over their mouth.

  2. Give 2 full, slow breaths, each lasting 1 to 1.5 seconds.

  3. After each breath, pull your mouth away and allow victim's lungs to deflate.

  4. If no exchange of air, reposition victim's head and retry.

  5. Look, listen, and feel for breathing and circulation (see ABCs) for no more than 10 seconds.

  6. If victim remains unconscious and:

    -if there are signs of circulation but no breathing, continue giving 1 breath every 5 seconds for adult

    -if there is no breathing or signs of circulation, go to CPR.

To learn more about first aid and emergency care, see:

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.
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