NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, May 2011
First Aid Information and Manuals Online
By Ira Wilsker, Radio Show Host,
Columnist, College Professor and deputy sheriff
(click to email author)


With the spate of recent tornadoes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters, along with the approach of hurricane season, now would be a great time to download and review some basic first aid information. First aid is not just for the aforementioned events of nature, but is also for the day to day risks and injuries that we are all likely to suffer or witness. Having a health care practitioner for a wife, and my having a lot of first aid training from boy scouts to professional training, our first aid training has been a literal lifesaver. Several years ago, a neighbor pounded on our front door screaming that his elderly father had collapsed, and was not breathing, so my wife and I responded. Using CPR, we revived him just as the paramedics arrived, and he was transported to the hospital. His adult son did not know what to do, and that ignorance may have cost his father his life. Over the years we have assisted at auto accidents before the EMS arrived, and also treated countless cuts, bruises, burns, contusions, insect bites, and other forms of minor injuries among family members and acquaintances.

While there is no substitute for professional first aid training, there are abundant online resources that can be used for reference if needed. I have downloaded a few free first aid manuals in PDF format to the USB flash drive that I always carry on my key chain, and these would be worthwhile for anyone to have for immediate access. Hard copies can be printed or nominally purchased for access in a disaster situation where power may not be available to allow for their viewing on a computer.

One excellent free first aid manual that can be downloaded in PDF format is the official U.S. Military First Aid Field Manual FM 4-25.11 available at http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/army/fm4_25x11.pdf. While this military first aid guide is clearly written for the types of injuries that may be encountered in a hostile or combat environment, it is very comprehensive and also covers the types of everyday injuries that all of us may encounter in our daily lives.

Another excellent and free downloadable first aid manual in PDF format is from First Aid Topics (http://www.firstaidtopics.com). The manual itself is very basic and easy to read, but contains topics including emergency childbirth, complications of diabetes, heart attack, stroke, bleeding, burns, poisons, and dozens of other relevant topics. The manual is totally free to anyone, and can be downloaded directly at http://www.firstaidtopics.com/downloads/First-Aid-and-CPR-Manual.pdf.

A very comprehensive and detailed first aid manual that can be freely downloaded is available as 15 individual chapters in PDF format from the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency, and is titled, " The Ship Captain's Medical Guide". As the title indicates, "The Ship Captain’s Medical Guide is intended primarily for use on ships where no doctor is carried and it is necessary for laymen to assess and treat injuries and to diagnose and treat ill health. The Guide can also be recommended for use in other situations where professional medical advice is not readily available, for example on expeditions. For the 22nd edition (2010) the Guide has been comprehensively reviewed and updated. It contains a wide range of authoritative advice – from birth to death, from first aid, general nursing, hygiene and the prevention of disease, to the treatment of injuries and diseases. The recommended measures for prevention and treatment can be safely carried out by an intelligent layman." The Ship Captain's Medical Guide, in addition to being clearly written in non-technical language, is also well illustrated with drawings that show what must be done. Some of the 15 chapters available for download as PDF files include principles of first aid, general nursing, communicable diseases, female disorders, pregnancy, childbirth, and other related topics.

There are also several reputable websites that provide a wealth of first aid information, including listings of supplies to keep on hand in a first aid kit. WebMD has a comprehensive collection of medically reviewed first aid information online at firstaid.webmd.com. The WebMD first aid website has links to the 30 most common first aid situations at the top of the page under the heading "First Aid Treatments - Common Topics", followed below with an extremely comprehensive directory labeled "First Aid - A-Z". The "A-Z" listing has links to hundreds of first aid topics. At the top of each WebMD first aid page is the dire warning, " Please call 911 immediately if you are having chest pain, difficulty breathing, severe bleeding, sudden weakness or numbness, or if you think you have a medical emergency." The information presented on WebMD is detailed, but easy to read and comprehend, and is an excellent resource for first aid information.

The world renowned Mayo Clinic has a directory of 53 first aid topics online at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/FirstAidIndex/FirstAidIndex. Each of the linked topics opens a new web page with detailed information on the selected subject that is written in plain English with easy to follow instructions.

Medline Plus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has a wide-ranging collection of first aid information online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/firstaid.html. This collection includes dozens of resources on pertinent topics, mostly from professional organizations including the American College of Emergency Physicians, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, and other distinguished associations. Despite their professional origins, the articles linked on Medline Plus are clearly written such that the average layperson can comprehend them and follow the explicit instructions to deal with the selected malady.

Now would be a good time to download the PDF files discussed earlier, and copy the files to multiple locations such that the information will be readily available when needed. It would also be a good idea to open the linked websites above and familiarize yourself with them, and bookmark the websites such that they can be easily opened when needed. Many years ago in a military environment, we were told, "It is better to have it and not need it, then to need it and not have it"; the information above, as well as a stocked first aid kit, complies with that statement.

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