5 Tips for Properly Perform First Aid in Emergencies

Performing first aid


One afternoon in an office. Suddenly, you watch a guest collapse and stop breathing – cardiac arrest. You don’t know exactly what to do now and the last first aid course was a long time ago? This is what happens to many in an emergency situation. Effective first aid at work is often simple. The following five tips show what you should do as a layman in an emergency and how you are well prepared for an emergency situation.

1. Every second counts

Whether in leisure time, at work, or on the road – when people are in need, quick help is often vital. For example, in the case of cardiac arrest: If a first responder immediately begins cardiac pressure massage and ventilation, the chances of survival of the affected person double or triple.

Even if, in an emergency, an emergency call is made immediately until the rescue forces arrive and intervene, valuable time usually passes. Even simple measures can be life-saving. Start first aid measures quickly. But also pay attention to your own safety.

2. Exclude dangers to oneself and others

Those who act thoughtlessly in an emergency may put themselves and others in danger. In the worst case, additional damage is caused. Therefore, first aid does not begin with resuscitation measures, but with one’s own safety. Do you recognize an emergency? Keep calm and get an overview: What has happened and what dangers threaten? Self-protection is a priority. Only approach those affected when it is safe for you to do so. For example, in the event of a traffic accident involving casualties, first, secure and mark the scene of the accident and warn other road users so that no subsequent accidents occur. The ADAC provides information on the correct protection of a traffic accident.

3. Make an emergency call

You can reach the rescue coordination centers under the Europe-wide emergency number 112. This is where the missions are coordinated. So that the rescue services receive all relevant information in advance, can assess the scope of the required measures, and know what to expect at the scene of the accident, answer the following questions on the phone:

  • Where did something happen?
  • What happened?
  • How many injured are there?
  • What injuries are present?
  • Who reports the accident?

Then wait for questions. The staff of the control centers are trained and will not leave you alone until rescue workers arrive.

Incidentally, emergency call 112 works in Germany in the vast majority of cases without reception, since the mobile phone dials into the next available network during an emergency call – even if it is not your own. Only if none of the three major German mobile networks is available, is the emergency call not work. However, total dead spots are extremely rare in Germany. If it does happen that no emergency call goes out, you can change your position – usually, you get reception again in the vicinity. Attention: this does not work with the 110.


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4. Provide first aid – physically and mentally

In an emergency, the willingness to help is more important than the knowledge of special assistance measures. Of course, you achieve more with higher competence. But even with simple means, you can determine whether there is a danger to life and what help is needed. Do not leave those affected alone. Talk to them, and offer physical contact if the person in need of help wants it. Ask regularly about your condition and if there is anything else you can do. The employee in the control center of the emergency call center will assist you on the phone with instructions.

Important first aid measures

Is the victim unconscious, i.e. does not respond to the loud response, but breathes normally? Then bring it into the stable lateral position. This prevents fluids such as blood or vomit from entering the respiratory tract that could suffocate the person concerned. Then check your breathing regularly until rescue workers arrive.

If, on the other hand, you can detect no or only irregular breathing (snapping breathing), this indicates cardiac arrest. If the pumping function of the heart fails, a circulatory arrest threatens. No more blood is pumped through the body – the victim is in acute mortal danger. This condition is only reversible for a very short time. Therefore, start resuscitation measures immediately. These include cardiac massage and ventilation. Untrained laymen who do not dare to ventilate can also help by performing only the cardiac massage.

Start with the cardiac massage. The correct frequency is 100 to 120 presses per minute. In order to comply with them, it helps if you silently sing along to the pop hit “La Macarena” or “Stayin’ Alive” in your head. This is the result of a study at the University of Barcelona. The cardiac massage takes place in constant alternation with the ventilation: 30x pressing, 2x ventilation. In practice, however, it has been shown that some people are insecure, especially when it comes to ventilation. Again, before you help at all, you can only perform the cardiac massage. Do not stop resuscitation until you notice clear signs of life or take over rescue workers.

First aid also includes psychological measures. People who appear uninjured after an accident are often in shock and may endanger themselves through unreflective behavior. You can make a big difference by addressing and reassuring sufferers, putting them out of danger, and monitoring their condition until professional helpers are on site.

5. Refresh skills regularly

An emergency can occur at any time. Those who are prepared for this can help effectively. But many people in Germany have only incomplete first-aid knowledge. This is confirmed, for example, by a survey by the ADAC and the Federal Association for First Aid with over 3600 people. Almost half did not dare to provide first aid in an emergency. For just as many, the last first aid course was ten years or more ago. If this also applies to you and you would like to expand or refresh your knowledge: Rescue services such as the German Red Cross, the Johanniter, or the Malteser Hilfsdienst offer regular courses and recommend repeating them every two to three years.