First aid for freshers

If you’ve just started your first year at university, you’re no doubt getting to grips with many new experiences, especially if you’re living away from your family for the first time. One thing you may not have thought about preparing for, however, is a medical emergency.

Teenagers and young people are arguably more likely to be affected by an emergency situation than any other age group. Yet if a survey by the British Red Cross is anything to go by, many aren’t able to cope when things go wrong.

The survey suggests many teenagers have been left to cope with a drunken friend who was sick, injured or unconscious, while a quarter have had to deal with asthma attacks and a third have had to cope with someone with a head injury. The survey also revealed that 44 percent of teenagers and young people panicked when faced with such emergencies, with 46 percent not knowing what to do.

Learning the basics of first aid could help save your life – or someone else’s life. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Too much alcohol If someone has collapsed after drinking too much, check they’re breathing straight away and roll them into the recovery position to keep their airway clear, says First Aid for Life. Keep them warm by moving them indoors, or if that’s not possible, cover them with a coat or blanket. Keep checking that they’re breathing and that their airway remains clear, especially if they’re vomiting.

Asthma attack Keep the person as calm as possible, and encourage them to use their reliever (usually blue) inhaler. If they don’t have their inhaler, call 999 for an ambulance. They should have one puff every 30-60 seconds. If they don’t feel better after taking 10 puffs – or if you’re worried at any point – call for an ambulance. Read more about asthma attacks on the NHS Choices website.

Head injury If someone has a minor head injury, stay with them for at least 24 hours and make sure they don’t drink alcohol or take recreational drugs (they can take paracetamol if they have a mild headache). If they become dizzy or their headache gets worse, take them to their nearest A&E.

Call for an ambulance if they have any signs of a more serious head injury, such as unconsciousness, difficulty staying awake, difficulty speaking, balance or vision problems, having a seizure, vomiting, memory loss (that is, not being able to remember what happened before or after the injury) or general weakness.

Why not also consider doing a first aid course at the British Red Cross or St John Ambulance?

Your local Careway pharmacist can also help you put together a handy first aid kit to deal with minor injuries and accidents. Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.