Acid attack first aid

household corrosive productsMalicious acid attacks using corrosive substances are, sadly, on the increase.

Although still a relatively uncommon weapon, acids and other corrosive chemicals create injuries that are life-changing for the victim.

Household cleaning products include toilet cleaners and bleach which are readily brought in supermarkets and hardware shops as well as battery acid contain these hazardous chemicals.

This is why, we all need to know what to do in the event of an attack

In August last year the NHS, the British Burn Association and the Royal College of Surgeons launched the Report, Remove and Rinse campaign

As soon as you’re aware of an acid attack taking place, shout for help and get someone to call 999 and explain what has happened, put the phone of speaker phone, so you can talk directly to the ambulance service.

Protect yourself from acid attacks

Make sure there is no continuing risk of attack and the assailant has either been immobilised or has left the scene.

But you must be sure that you’re not at risk, before attempting to administer first aid, additional casualties are not helpful.

Put on gloves

Every first aid box will have some form of protective gloves so make sure you use them.

Check the floor and adjacent surfaces for chemical spills before you kneel down.

acid and corrosive warnings

Take Action

Take immediate and appropriate action following acid attacks to remove the contamination.

If the chemical is a powder brush it gently off the skin before washing. Watch out for airborne particles.

Never wipe or rub the area.

Carefully cut away all clothing from the area, shears are usually in the first aid box.

Never pull T-shirts over the head, because chemical may get into the eyes.

Make sure not to pull any clothing stuck to the skin, cut away all contaminated clothing, with the shears.

Immediately after acid attacks start flushing the whole area with copious amounts of clean water and continue to do so for 20 minutes.

Rinsing within 1 minute of the event will reduce complications.

This makes the difference to the, pain, suffering, scarring and long-term recovery of the casualty.

Continue flushing for a further 15 to 20 minutes, if it’s still burning.

The best sources of water are a tap, hose or shower, drinking water bottles are insufficient for more than initial flushing, but several water cooler bottles can be used.

David Ward, President of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS), said:

“BAPRAS surgeons specialising in burns and trauma have seen first-hand the devastating impact on patients admitted to A&E after vicious corrosive substance attacks. They cause severe pain, scarring which can be life-long, and can damage the sight, sometimes leading to blindness. Unfortunately these vindictive attacks are on the increase.

“The minutes after an acid attack are critical for helping a victim. This guidance BAPRAS has published with NHS England gives the important, urgent steps a victim or witness can take to help reduce the immediate pain and damage, and long-term injuries.”

To gain a First Aid Qualification Book here

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Your community needs a defibrillator (AED)

Cardiac arrests do not discriminate.

AED automated external defibrillator
Public Access Defibrillator

A sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, at any time.

Your heart stops beating normally and you lose consciousness.

No matter your age, gender, or ability there is no discrimination, it can be any one of us.

In fact, whether you live in a city or a rural village, your public access AED (automated external defibrillator) is literally a life-saver.

Most importantly, it gives the local community a feeling of safety and well-being.

Therefore, once you have one, you must let people know about it, and the basics of how to activate and use it.

The Resuscitation Council’s, “Chain of Survival”, says best practice for treatment of cardiac arrests is:

Resuscitation Council Chain of survival
Resuscitation Council Chain of survival

Early Recognition of Cardiac Arrest

First of all, check to see if they’re responsive and breathing. Gently tap on their shoulders, try to get a response. Then listen and feel for breath on your cheek and look for the rise and fall of their chest, check they’re breathing normally.

Early CPR

Secondly, begin CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation), immediately you know the person isn’t breathing, call the ambulance service and start chest compressions. Start with 30 and then give 2 rescue breaths and continue repeating this.

Importantly, don’t worry about hurting them, the person lying on the floor in front of you, is technically dead.

You can only improve their survival rate.

Early Defibrillation.

By investing in an AED it keeps our communities safe, but make sure everyone knows where they’re kept.

I recently visited a sports club, they have an AED, unfortunately, most members didn’t know it was kept on top of the kitchen cupboard.

Most importantly, a public access AED, must be available to anyone, because, nobody knows who may need it.

If you own a defibrillator, be generous, make it available for public use.

By registering your device with the ambulance service, you make sure they can tell people quickly, where and how to access it.

And it’s a good idea to know where your nearest AED  is located, it makes an enormous difference to survival.

Early Hospitalisation

Firstly, this means getting them to professional medical care at the earliest possible time.

By alerting the ambulance service immediately you know the casualty isn’t breathing, you will get help quickly.

And don’t forget, funding a Public Access AED may be possible through the British Heart Foundation supported Heart Start.

Alternatively, we can direct you to a supplier for purchase or rental, from as little as 99p per day.

All CPR First Aid Training Courses include AED instruction.

Book here for First Aid at Work, Emergency First Aid at Work, Basic Life Support, Paediatric First Aid or non regulated sports injury courses

Allergies can be life-threatening

Allergic Reactions

Allergies and anaphylaxis can be great cause of concern in the hospitality industry.Allergens causing anaphylaxis

Talking to the manager of an expensive and exclusive restaurant recently, he related a story that nearly ended in catastrophe.

Jenny, the wife of a customer who has known allergies had phoned to book a table for his 50th birthday.


She explained, “I’m really worried, it’s my husband John’s birthday celebration, but he has serious allergies to peppers, nuts and celery, so I need to know what items on the menu, he should avoid.”

Although the restaurant menu had explicit descriptions of allergens, the manager decided the safest plan was to let the customer talk to the chef.

After a careful discussion of her requirements they agreed an adapted menu would be provided on the day. Satisfied with the outcome the table was booked for the 4 guests, to Jenny’s delight.

The day arrived, and as promised chef greeted the group in the bar, where he delivered his specially created menu, quickly followed by the sommelier with the wine list.

Orders placed, the group went through to their table and began their meal.

The sommelier arrived shortly after with their selected wine, and everyone was chatting and enjoying the evening.

“Help me?” was the next thing anybody heard. John stood up having difficulty to breathe, his mouth and tongue swelling and his eyes red and itching.

Fortunately, his wife immediately identified what was happening. John was having a severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis, and she got him to lay down on the floor, before he collapsed.

What to do

“Someone dial 999 to call an ambulance, and tell them John’s having an anaphylactic reaction”, she shouted.

She started searching John’s pockets for the adrenaline auto injector he always carries.

Epipen auto injector
Epipen auto injector

Auto injectors come in several brands such as Epipen or Jext.

Using them is basically the same, remove the cap and punch the needle end hard into the top of the thigh, straight through the clothing. It’s important to hold it in place for ten seconds and then massage the area for a further ten seconds.

The ambulance crew arrived shortly after and took over John’s care. If he hadn’t responded to the adrenaline, Jenny may have needed to give a second dose with another injector, often carried by the patient too, or if he’d stopped breathing start CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation).

After John had been despatched to hospital, the restaurant started to investigate. How after so much care with the menu  could this happen? What had they inadvertently served, that had caused such a severe allergic reaction?

Subsequent tests for John, revealed he had an undiagnosed allergy to sulphites in the red wine he’d been drinking.Sulphite Allergens

If you work in the hospitality industry or have relatives and friends with allergies.

You really should consider one of our training courses, either general CPR life saving skills or Anaphylaxis Management.

Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening condition.

 Find out and book one of our courses here

Do you need that ambulance

emargency call button mobile phoneAmbulance Response

Ambulance response times are at their most challenging during winter months.

More and more people have accidents or are taken ill, and as a result you may have to wait longer.

Emergency departments are also under great pressure too, and this in turn delays ambulances getting back on the road.

That’s why you should be extra sure that you really need them before you call 999/112.

Always carefully check the person’s condition, are they breathing, are they responding?

If  someone’s collapsed, don’t automatically phone for help, they may be asleep, fainted or under the influence and not need the ambulance service.

What to do

Have a good look around, see if there’s any obvious reason they’re there.

Is there an electric cable nearby or a toppled chair, these are pretty good indicators of what might have happened.

Is it safe to approach them, if there’s a cable don’t touch them, until you’re sure the power has been disconnected and it’s safe to do so.

Approach from their feet, checking there’s no immediate danger to you.

Try to get a response from them, by asking loudly, “can you hear me”, and shaking their foot or shoulders.

If they don’t react, shout for help, then make sure they’re on their back and start checking them over.

Check they’re breathing

It’s important to open the casualty’s airway, making sure they can breathe.

Open their mouth and look for any obstruction, with one hand press firmly down on their forehead, at the same time using two fingers under their chin lift the head backwards, allowing their mouth to open, this will ensure they have a clear airway.

Next place the side of your face close to their mouth, so that you’re looking down their chest.

Watch for the rise and fall of the chest, listen for the sound of breathing and feel for breath on your cheek, do this for about 10 seconds allowing enough time for 2 normal breaths.

If you can’t detect any signs of breathing, time to get get your helper, or if you’re on your own, phone for an ambulance and start CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation) immediately, or here’s the British Heart Foundation video of CPR.

If possible, put the call on speaker phone so you and your helper can answer any questions and hear any instructions.

The call handler will ask you basic questions about where you are and what’s happened.

Tell them, that you have an unresponsive, casualty who is not breathing.

They’ll tell you to begin CPR, instructing you what to do.

Use an AED
An AED Training unit.

They’ll also tell your helper about the nearest AED (automated external defibrillator), giving  the access code, and advising the expected ambulance response time.

It’s essential to keep giving CPR and ideally giving rescue breaths too, if your happy to do so.

You must continue with CPR compression, until professional help arrives, or the casualty makes definite signs of life, such as, pushing you away.

When the defibrillator arrives, tell your helper to unpack it and follow the instructions, you must continue CPR uninterrupted.

Having confidence to act in an emergency

If you’d like to learn how to perform CPR and use an AED, book one of our Basic Life Support Courses or qualify as an Emergency First Aider, it looks great on your C.V. too.

Walking like a Penguin

Two penguins as if talking
Courtesy Hilary Backwell

Slippery Days

It seems every year here in the UK, we get caught out by icy weather, and this year is no exception.

Ice and snow, fog and floods, these all seriously impact on our way of life, delaying trains, blocking roads and generally making things difficult.

But delays and diversions are nothing compared to the personal pain and anguish inflicted by slips, trips and falls because of ice and snow.

Equally important, is how these impact on our overwhelmed National Health and Ambulance Services. The subsequent strain on social services when these injuries happen to vulnerable people is immense.

As a First Aid Trainer I know the consequences of fractures, so any way in which we can mitigate these injuries must be a good thing.

What to do

Learning from the experts is always a good idea. When the Norwegians suggest that we should adopt a different approach to walking on ice, it would seem to make sense. They in turn are looking to another level of expertise, the penguins.

Diagram of how penguins walk on ice
Courtesy of Visit Northern Norway

You’ll see from the accompanying diagram provided by a  Visit Northern Norway.

Simply modifying your posture and centre of gravity, walking on ice can be much safer and getting around in these conditions easier.

Broken bones, particularly hips, are massively expensive both financially and in lives. By copying the way our Antarctic friends walk, we may  help both ourselves and the hard-pressed health professionals.

penguins walking up ice berg slope
Courtesy Hilary Backwell

Although the current cold snap may not last, remember, “walking like penguin”, brings its own benefits in icy weather.

If the worst happens, it’s good to know that there are trained people to assist, until professional help arrives.

Learning to be a First Aider is a valuable social skill, not only for winter injuries. It provides you with the confidence to deal with more serious conditions, such as cardiac arrests, choking, burns and bleeding.

So, if you’d like to have that confidence, please book a first aid course to suit your needs, whether a fully regulated qualification or a more casual approach.

See our blog Help keep our ambulances free for real emergencies

Don’t play hide and seek – time is precious


Saving a lifeAED defibrillator unit

Do you have an AED defibrillator on your business premises?

More importantly do you know what an AED defibrillator is for?

If you’ve got one, is it exclusively for the private use by your company and employees?

Would you considered making your AED defibrillator available to public access, and registering it with the ambulance service?

Do all your workers know where it’s located and how to use one?

They’re going to die

When your casualty is dying in front of your eyes, it’s not the time to be asking the manager, where to find it.

Time is critical, and is the difference between life and death.

For every minute that passes following the sudden cardiac arrest, the chances of survival reduce by 10%.

By acting quickly and starting Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) immediately, you’re starting to circulate the oxygen remaining in their blood to the brain.

Sadly, CPR alone is nowhere near as successful as TV soaps would have you believe.

The survival rate for using CPR and rescue breaths alone is around 5%.

Have your own AED defibrillator

By investing in your own device you’re not only looking after your employees, customers and visitors, you’re giving them a massively improved chance of surviving an Sudden Cardiac Arrest.

By early use of a AED defibrillator the chance of recovery is nearer 75 to 80%.

If you have an AED, do you have someone responsible for checking and maintaining the unit regularly?

This would normally be your certified First Aider or the “Appointed Person” who also looks after the First Aid Box.

Finally, make sure everyone in your company knows where your AED defibrillator is. Don’t keep it a hidden secret.

If you don’t have one, please think about installing one.

We can help you purchase one, or provide you with a rental unit from as little as 99p per day.

Book a course and we can help you buy one and train you to use it.