Although each case involving injury or sickness presents its own special problems, the following
general rules apply to practically all situations. Become familiar with these basic rules before you go on to
first aid treatment for specific types of injuries.
1. Keep the victim lying down, head level with the body, until you have found out what kind of
injury has occurred and how serious it is. If the victim shows one of the following difficulties,
however, follow the rule given for that specific problem:
a. Vomiting or bleeding about the mouth and semi-consciousness. If the victim is in danger of
sucking in blood, vomited matter, or water, place the victim on his/her side or back with the
head turned to one side and lower than the feet.
b. Shortness of breath. If the victim has a chest injury or breathing difficulties, place the victim
in a sitting or semi-sitting position.
c. Shock. If the victim is in shock, place the person on his or her back with the head slightly
lower than the feet.
2. Move the victim no more than is absolutely necessary. To determine the extent of the victim's
injuries, carefully rip or cut the clothing along the seams. If done improperly, the removal of the
victim's clothing could cause great harm, especially if fracture injuries are involved. When the
clothing is removed, ensure that the victim does not become chilled. Shoes may also be cut off to
avoid causing pain or increasing an injury.
3. The victim need not see the actual injury(ies). You can supply reassurance and make the victim
more comfortable by ensuring him or her that the injuries incurred are understood and medical
attention will be given as soon as possible.
4. Do not touch open wounds or burns with fingers or other objects, except when sterile compresses
or bandages are not available and it is absolutely necessary to stop severe bleeding.
5. Do not try to give an unconscious person any solid or liquid substance by mouth. The person
may vomit and get some of the material into the lungs when he or she breathes, causing choking
and possibly death.
6. If a bone is broken, or you suspect that one is broken, do not move the victim until you have
immobilized the injured part. This may prove life saving in cases of severe bone fractures or
spinal cord injuries, because the jagged bone may sever nerves and blood vessels, damage
tissues, and increase shock. Of course, threat of fire, necessity to abandon ship, or other similar
situations may require that the victim be moved. But the principle that further damage could be
done by moving the victim should always be kept in mind and considered against other factors.
7. When transporting an injured person, always see that the litter is carried feet forward no matter
what the injuries are. This will enable the rear bearer to observe the victim for any respiratory
obstruction or stoppage of breathing.
8. Keep the injured person comfortably warm warm enough to maintain normal body
Very serious and mutilating injuries may require heroic first aid measures on your part. However, the
greater the number of injuries, the more judgment and self-control you must exhibit to prevent yourself
and well-intentioned bystanders from trying to do too much.