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First Aid Tips

Visit our 9-1-1 response section for more information on ambulance emergencies.


For external bleeding (when blood escapes from the surface wound and can be seen) remember RED:

  • Rest patient
  • Elevate wounded limb
  • Direct pressure on wound
*Do not apply a tourniquet

Signs and symptoms

  • Patient heard bone "snap"
  • Deformity at the site of the fracture or pain at the site of the fracture
  • Impaired movement of limb

Action (serious fractures involving injuries to the body, neck or back)

  • Call 9-1-1
  • Do not move the patient
  • Help the patient find a comfortable position
  • Control bleeding if present

Burns can be caused by fire, the sun, chemicals, heated objects or fluids, and electricity. They vary in severity and can range from minor problems to life-threatening emergencies. Distinguishing a minor burn from a more serious burn involves determining the degree of damage to the tissues of the body. If you are not sure how serious the burn is call 9-1-1.

First-degree burns are those in which only the outer layer of skin is burned. The skin is usually red and some swelling and pain may occur. Unless the burn involves large portions of the body, it can be treated at home.

Second-degree burns are those in which the first layer of skin has been burned through and the second layer of skin is also burned. In these burns, the skin reddens intensely and blisters develop. Severe pain and swelling also occur. If a second degree burn is no larger than 2 or 3 inches in diameter, it can be treated at home. If the burn covers a larger area, call 9-1-1.

Third-degree burns are the most serious and involve all layers of skin. Fat, nerves, muscles, and even bones may be affected. Areas may be charred black or appear a dry white. If nerve damage is substantial, there may be no pain at all. In these cases call 9-1-1 immediately.


Follow these steps when treating minor burns at home:

  • Cover the area of the burn with a clean, water-moistened dressing
  • Apply clean water to dressed burn to cool, as required
  • Never put any medication on the burn unless a doctor directs you to do so
  • Do not use creams, lotions, butter, etc.


For major burns, call 9-1-1 and follow these steps until paramedics arrive:

  • Do not remove any material stuck to the skin
  • Cover the burned area with a cool, moist, sterile bandage or clean cloth
  • Do not place any creams, ointments or ice on the burned area

Signs and symptoms

  • Remember a choking patient cannot speak to you
  • If the patient is coughing or can speak - do nothing
  • If they cannot breath or speak to you, take action

Action (adults)

  • Reassure the patient
  • If the victim is conscious, position yourself behind them and reach your arms around their waist.
  • Place your fist, thumb side in, just above the victim’s navel and grab the fist tightly with your other hand.
  • Pull your fist abruptly upwards and inwards
  • Repeat until the object is expelled

Action (infants)

  • Lay the infant face down along your forearm, using your thigh/ lap for support
  • Hold the infant’s chest in your hand and jaw with your fingers
  • Point the infant’s head downward, lower than the body
  • Give up to 5 quick, forceful blows between the infant’s shoulder blades (using the heel of your free hand)

Fire emergency examples:

  • Presence of smoke
  • Presence of fire
  • Presence of toxic fumes


  • In British Columbia, call 9-1-1 for fire emergencies
  • State which community you are calling from and provide your address


  • Do not induce vomiting unless you are certain of the poison and know the correct treatment.
  • For information regarding poisons and appropriate first aid treatment call the BC Drug and Poison Information Centre (DPIC).
  • The BC Drug and Poison Information Centre 24-Hour line is: 
    • Phone: 604-682-5050
    • Toll free: 1-800-567-8911
  • If the person is unconscious, convulsing, or having trouble breathing or swallowing call 9-1-1 immediately.


  • Teach your children the symbols that mean "poison".

Police emergency examples:

  • Crime in progress
  • Suspicious person
  • Child or elderly person missing
  • Personal injury


In British Columbia:

  • Call 9-1-1 (emergency)
  • Call 604-717-3321 (non-emergency)

Signs and symptoms

  • Alternating contraction and relaxation of muscle groups
  • Eye movements and turning of the head to the same side
  • Speech arrest, vocalization
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Rapid heart rate


  • Do not attempt to restrain patient
  • Do not attempt to force anything between the patient’s teeth
  • Beware of the possibility of the patient causing personal injury by striking surrounding objects during the seizure (remove objects, if possible)
  • When seizure is over place patient in the recovery position
  • Call 9-1-1 if symptoms persist

Signs and symptoms

  • Extremely low blood pressure
  • Fast but weak pulse
  • Dizziness, faintness or light-headedness
  • Feeling weak or nauseous
  • Moist, clammy skin
  • Profuse sweating
  • Unconsciousness
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Feeling anxious, agitated or confused
  • Blue lips and fingernails


  • Act immediately
  • Keep patient lying down
  • Reassure patient
  • Elevate patient’s legs
  • Keep patient warm – avoid overheating
  • Watch patient carefully
  • Do not give the patient anything to drink – especially alcohol


If a spinal injury is suspected:

  • Shout into patient’s ear for response. Do not shake.
If a spinal injury is not suspected:

  • Shake shoulders and shout in ear for response.
  • If there is no response, look, listen and feel for breathing
If patient is not breathing:

  • Open the airway, push forehead back and hold
  • Clear out mouth, if necessary, with fingers
  • Remove dentures only if loose
  • Give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation (one breath every five seconds)
If patient is breathing:

  • Place them in the recovery position to prevent choking
SOURCE: First Aid Tips ( )
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