Many people assume first aid is all about the physical treatment of patients and whilst a large percentage of the skills we teach in our First Aid courses are to do with the body, we do acknowledge the importance of looking after the mind as well.
In traumatic situations, the patient’s mental well-being needs to be attended to in addition to the physical injury. Instances such as a panic attacks can use up much needed adrenaline from the patient, cause shortness of breath and have other dangerous side-effects.
Today is World Mental Health Day so we thought we would use this opportunity to address some of the issues that you may come across in a First Aid situation.
Shock: Shock can cause a diverse range of symptoms depending on the patient. The symptoms could be as ‘minor’ as quickened breathing all the way through to unconsciousness. If it looks like someone is going into shock it is important to keep them talking so they don’t pass out as this can make treatment extremely different.
Panic attacks: Panic attacks can strike at any time and it may not even be the patient that is being treated that goes into panic. If someone is suffering from a panic attack, the best procedure is to get them seated, head between the knees so the oxygen returns to the brain and then concentrate on breathing.
Hysteria: If someone becomes hysterical in a first aid situation, the primary focus is on calming that person down. If it’s a bystander becoming hysterical, move them away from the patient so as to not upset them. Keep your voice calm and your instructions clear and patiently work with them to calm them down.
Throughout our first aid courses we always ensure we cover the variables of the treatment including the patients frame of mind.
Ongoing mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, need to be addressed on a different level and recommend you seek the guidance of a professional medical practitioner. If you need help immediately, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.