How to help whilst waiting for an ambulance

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In the article “How to Help Whilst Waiting for an Ambulance,” the author emphasizes the importance of taking immediate action when you are the first responder in an emergency situation. With ambulance times on the rise due to increasing demands on the healthcare system, your actions in those critical moments can make the difference between life and death. The article provides practical tips on how to assess the situation, communicate with the casualty, and administer basic first aid while waiting for professional help to arrive. By understanding these essential steps, you can contribute to saving lives and supporting the overwhelmed ambulance service in the UK.


When it comes to medical emergencies, every minute counts. In situations where an ambulance is needed, the first few minutes are crucial and can make a significant difference in the outcome. Unfortunately, the current strain on the NHS and ambulance services means that ambulance response times can be longer than desired. That's where your knowledge of first aid can play a crucial role. By providing immediate first aid while waiting for an ambulance, you can potentially save a life. In this article, we will discuss the importance of first aid in these situations and provide guidance on what actions you can take to help the casualty.

Importance of first aid while waiting for an ambulance

Ambulances strive to arrive at life-threatening emergencies within eight minutes. However, due to the increasing strain on the NHS and ambulance services, this may not always be feasible. This is where your knowledge of first aid becomes invaluable. The first aid you provide in those critical minutes can be the difference between life and death. By knowing how to assess the situation and take appropriate actions, you can keep the casualty stable and increase their chances of survival until the ambulance arrives.

How To Help Whilst Waiting For An Ambulance

Assessing the Situation

The first step in providing effective first aid while waiting for an ambulance is to stay calm and collected. Taking a deep breath and clearing your head will help you think clearly and make the right decisions. It's important not to rush in but to evaluate the situation objectively. Sometimes, the most obvious problem may not be the most serious one. By staying calm and gathering an overview of the situation, you can prioritize and address the most critical issues.

Ensuring safety for yourself and the casualty is of utmost importance. Before providing any aid, make sure you are not in immediate danger and assess the scene for any potential risks. If necessary, try to remove any hazards or alert others to help create a safe . Remember, your safety and the safety of the casualty should always be the first priority.

Checking for Response

Once you have ensured safety, it's time to check for the casualty's response. Start by speaking to the person and gently tapping their shoulders. Assess if they are conscious and responsive. If there is no response, it's crucial to open their airway and check for breathing. These initial assessments will help you determine the severity of the situation and guide your next steps.

If the casualty is unconscious but breathing, it's important to place them in the recovery position. This position helps protect their airway and prevents obstruction while waiting for medical . However, if the person is unconscious and not breathing, immediate CPR should be initiated. This life-saving technique can help maintain blood flow and oxygenation until professional help arrives.

How To Help Whilst Waiting For An Ambulance

Casualty Conscious

If the casualty is conscious, your first priority should be controlling any bleeding and administering essential first aid. Direct pressure should be applied to any wounds to stop or minimize bleeding. Additionally, if the casualty requires any specific medication, such as GTN spray or asthma medication, assist them in administering it before calling for an ambulance. Keeping the casualty warm and dry and offering reassurance can also help stabilize their condition until professional help arrives.

Difficulty Breathing

In situations where the casualty is having difficulty breathing, the position in which they are placed can make a difference. Tilting the casualty's head and shoulders upwards and allowing them to sit in an upright position can help alleviate breathing difficulties. If they are at risk of collapsing, help them sit on the floor securely. It's also important to try and determine the cause of their breathing difficulty, such as asthma or an acute allergic reaction. If the casualty has medication for their condition, assist them in using it promptly. If their condition worsens, make sure to contact the ambulance service again and provide them with an update.

How To Help Whilst Waiting For An Ambulance

Possible Heart Attack

If a person is showing signs of a heart attack, it's crucial to act quickly. Sitting them down in an upright position, preferably in a lazy W shape, can help alleviate pressure on the heart. Encouraging them to take their GTN spray, if available, can also be beneficial. If the person does not feel better and has been prescribed a 300mg Aspirin, they should chew it immediately. It's important to call emergency services and stress the urgency of the situation. If the person becomes unconscious and stops breathing, start CPR if possible and request someone to fetch a defibrillator if available. Keep updating the ambulance service about the deteriorating condition of the casualty to ensure prompt help.

Possible Stroke

When someone exhibits signs of a stroke, swift action is necessary. If the ambulance is delayed and you feel confident in transporting the casualty, consider taking them directly to a stroke unit. Timely assessment and treatment are crucial, as certain stroke treatments are most effective within a few hours of symptom onset. While waiting for medical , reassure the casualty and keep them warm and dry. Your presence and support can help alleviate their anxiety and provide comfort during a stressful time.

How To Help Whilst Waiting For An Ambulance

Possible Spinal Injury

If there is a concern that the casualty may have suffered a spinal injury, it's important to exercise caution and minimize movements that could cause further harm. Advise the person to remain still and avoid twisting their back or neck. You can assist them in maintaining the correct position by gently supporting their head and neck with your hands in a neutral position. However, if the person is unconscious and breathing, even with concerns about their spine, it may be necessary to carefully log roll them into the recovery position to protect their airway. If you have any concerns about their airway or need additional assistance, seek help promptly.

Additional Resources

Understanding the process of calling 999 is crucial for effective communication during an emergency. Knowing what information to provide and how to communicate it clearly can help expedite the arrival of medical assistance. Additionally, learning first aid is essential for everyone. Being equipped with the knowledge and skills to handle medical emergencies can save lives. Furthermore, taking steps to prevent accidents and injuries through proactive measures reduces the need for emergency medical intervention.

In conclusion, your presence and actions in the moments before an ambulance arrives can make a significant impact on someone's survival and recovery. By staying calm, assessing the situation, and providing appropriate first aid, you can help stabilize the casualty and increase their chances of a positive outcome. Your knowledge of first aid is a valuable asset, and by utilizing it effectively, you can play a vital role in minimizing the strain on the NHS and ambulance services and ultimately, save lives.

How To Help Whilst Waiting For An Ambulance

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