Did you know that you don’t need specialist equipment in order to help someone who is injured or hurt? No, really.
When doing first aid, there are lots of day-to-day items you can use to help someone instead.
Read three real-life first aid stories where ordinary items saved the day and you’ll soon be able to spot items around you should you ever need to help.
Sam Hilton was walking home from work on a wet and rainy evening when she spotted a man lying in the road.
“I was quite nervous about going over as it was quite late and it was winter, so it was dark,” she said.
But Sam knew she had to check if the man was okay.
“I went over and said, ‘You all right, mate?’ When I got no response, I knew something was wrong and that I had to call an ambulance and help.”
Closer-up, Sam recognised the man as one of her neighbours. It looked like he’d fallen over on the wet leaves covering the pavement.
Remembering the first aid she’d learnt at work, Sam acted immediately.
“I knelt down beside him and shook him by the shoulder to see if he’d respond but he didn’t,” Sam said.
“I could see he was breathing, so I rolled him on his side and tilted his head back.”
“I could see blood coming from the back of his head. I didn’t know how big the cut was because of his hair but it was still bleeding and I could see the blood dripping down.
“I took off my hoody and used it to put pressure on the wound.”
While waiting for the ambulance, the man came around. Sam gently explained who she was, what had happened and that an ambulance was on its way. It arrived soon after.
“The paramedics thanked me for what I’d done and took him off to hospital.”
When the man later came out of hospital, he came round to Sam’s house to thank her for what she’d done.
“He got me a new hoody to thank me,” Sam said, to replace the one she’d used to stem the bleed on the man’s head.
First aid scenario: heavy bleeding
Item used: a hoody
Five-year-old Darcey loves riding her bike with her dad and brother. But one day she hit a rock, sending her over her handlebars and banging her forehead in the process.
Her brother, Hayden, came running over to help, closely followed by their dad. Fortunately, Darcey’s parents had been on a British Red Cross first aid course, so her dad knew exactly what to do.
First, he checked Darcey for concussion. She seemed relatively well, but he knew he needed to put something cold on her head to reduce the swelling. So they made the short journey home, where Darcey was given frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel to place over her bump.
Her mum soon returned home from work but by this time the swelling had increased.
“Darcey looked pale and was becoming drowsy. To be honest, I found it difficult to know if she was just sleepy due to the time of day and energetic day, or drowsy due to the injury,” she recalls.
But alarm bells started ringing when she started to vomit and they took her straight to the hospital.
“I had a hundred things running through my head and just needed reassurance that we were doing the right thing,” Darcey’s mum said.
“Thankfully, I remembered the Red Cross baby and child first aid app I’d downloaded on to my phone after I’d been on one of their courses. It gave me instant peace of mind.’’
The app explained that you should seek medical advice if a child vomits after a head injury.
The hospital monitored Darcey overnight but felt she was well enough to go home in the morning. She made a full recovery and now is back out and about on her bike.
First aid scenario: head injury
Item used: frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel
Shirley* was enjoying an afternoon in the cafe of a local leisure centre with her family when her grandson hurt himself.
“My little grandson Ollie, who was seven months old at the time, was sat on his dad’s knee,” she explained.
“Before anyone could stop him, Ollie lunged forward and knocked a hot cup of coffee over himself, spilling it all over his legs.”
Fortunately, she knew what to do, having completed a baby and child first aid course with the Red Cross three weeks before.
“I grabbed Ollie from his dad’s arms and hurried to the ladies’ toilets looking for cold water.
“The cold tap in the toilet wasn’t working, so I ran into the kitchen and set him on the counter.
“There was a jug of water on the side so I quickly grabbed it and poured it over him where the coffee had landed. I knew that I needed to keep cooling the burn for at least ten minutes.
“After I had used the jug of water the next available cold liquid to hand was a jug of diluted juice. From my first aid course I knew that as long as the liquid was safe to drink, it would be safe to cool a burn. So I used the jug of juice to cool the burnt area.”
The kitchen staff then helped by bringing more jugs of cold water for Shirley to pour over Ollie’s burn.
There was only redness on top of his leg and the skin hadn’t broken but they decided to take him to A&E to be sure. Ollie was going to be fine.
First aid scenario: burn
Item used: jugs of cold water and a jug of juice
- Find out more about other ordinary items that can help in a first aid emergency
Learn first aid
You never know when you might need to help someone who becomes ill or injured. The good news is that first aid is easy to learn and simple to do.
Learn your way:
- Learn adult first aid online
- Learn baby and child first aid online
- Download our First Aid app
- Book a course
Why not take part in learn and share too and encourage others to follow your example?