One of the easiest and earliest management that even a bystander can administer to a victim is first aid. However, most people are not well-informed and not well-trained in giving first aid accurately, and they rely mostly on information that has been and passed to them which some have proven effective and some aren’t. 

More often, this information is not backed with scientific studies, and they are obsolete. Instead of relieving a victim from an injury, you might cause more harm because of the information you believe is true. 

Because of this kind of information, we have listed five first aid fallacies and what's real and fact. 


  1. Fallacy: To halt the bleeding, tilt your head back.

Fact: Lean forward and pinch your nose

According to medical experts, nose bleeding is not always an emergency. If your nose continues to bleed after 5 to 6 minutes then that's when you should seek the assistance of a professional expert. 

If you want to provide first aid, tell the victim to lean forward and have the nose pinched just below the bone. When the head is tilted backward it might cause additional danger especially if the bleeding is heavy. 

  1. Fallacy: During choking situations, the Heimlich technique is always required.

Fact: if you have someone choking, always remember to be composed, and you shouldn’t make use of the Heimlich maneuver immediately. Assessment is very important before you begin any first aid treatment

When you have someone choking, firstly check if the person can still talk or if the person is turning blue already because of complete obstruction. For the latter, the Heimlich maneuver is required so that air will assist in pushing the blockage upward. However, if the person can still talk, it means the blockage is just partial, and normal coughing can dislodge it. Don’t give the victim fluid because it can fill up the space remaining in the person's airway. 


  1. Fallacy: Apply a hot compress to a sprained ankle.

Fact: Apply a cold compress to a sprained ankle

Making use of a hot compress to a sprained ankle will only increase the degree of inflammation, whereas a cold compress will help in minimizing both the pain sensation and swelling. So it's advisable to make use of a cold compress for about 10 minutes with another 10 minutes interval for 48 hours. 


  1. Fallacy: To eliminate the snake venom, cut the snake bite with a knife, place a tourniquet to the extremities, and suck the bloody wound.

Fact: Apply a splint or clean towel to the affected region and proceed to the emergency department as soon as possible.

Contrary to most people's belief, when a snake bite happens the victim's blood should be sucked out. Doing this will only endanger the life of the rescuer because the area beneath the tongue is vascular and can absorb blood with the snake's venom easily. 

Likewise, cutting the affected place to allow the blood to ooze out can damage several tendons and nerves, so it’s better not to touch the wound. The same is true with tourniquets since, as we all know, cutting off the blood flow to any region of the body would only leave that part injured and non-functional.


  1. Fallacy: Allow the seizure victim to bite a spoon so that he/she does not bite his tongue.

Fact: Never put anything in a victim's mouth.

If you come across someone having a seizure, it's either the person is suffering from convulsion or is naturally an epileptic person. During the time the person is having a seizure, avoid touching the victim unless you think the person needs to be moved to a safer place. When you put a spoon into a victim's mouth, only two things can happen: either the person breaks the object or it can lead to an accidental choking. 


Conclusion

First aid is vital to save lives, but if performed incorrectly, it can cause greater harm to the person. One of our key obligations as health care providers is to convey health information that is both effective and accurate. Everyone can save lives, but to do so, everyone must be educated on the myths and beliefs surrounding first aid treatment.



June 28, 2021

Natasha Osei

Passionate Nurse Practitioner | People person

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