Allergic Reactions, What to Look For & How to Help

What is an allergic reaction? How can I help someone having an allergic reaction? What does an allergic reaction look like? Can an allergy be fatal? What does an extreme allergy or Anaphylaxis look like? What causes allergies? These are some of the questions that we have received within our first aid courses, to begin an allergic reaction is an immune response causing hypersensitivity to substances that either contact or enter the body.

Substances causing the allergy are called Allergens, these can be almost anything from bee venom, pollen, pet dander, shell fish and many other substances. When your body comes into contact with an allergen it reacts as if the substance was a pathogen or harmful substance. This causes the body to have an immune response and release histamines, histamines are involved with the body’s immune response causing tissue inflammation or swelling at the sight of contact with the allergen. Depending on where the body begins to swell this can range from a slight irritation to extremes that may be life threatening “Anaphylaxis“.

Depending on the person’s sensitivity to the substance their body’s immune response “Allergy” may be slow to react or almost instantaneous. The severity of the reaction depends on each individuals immune system and sensitivity.

How to Spot an Allergy Mild or Severe “Anaphylaxis”


  • Itchy skin with raised areas, Hives or even a Rash
  • Tightness in the throat or chest, congestion
  • Dizziness , weakness or confusion

-Severe “Anaphylaxis-

  • Swelling of the face, lips, neck, ears or hands, if the tongue or throat swell this may block the airway “Dangerous”
  • Redness of the skin that may be raised with a rash, hives or blotchy.
  • Weakness or dizziness with nausea or vomiting
  • breathing difficulties, wheezing or coughing

How to Help:

  • If the scene is safe to do so “Check” the victim and make sure they are breathing.
  • If the victim’s allergy is severe “Anaphylaxis” or has trouble breathing and loses consciousness have someone “Call 911” and make sure emergency response is on the way.
  • Care” for the Victim by offering comfort warmth & reasurance as anxiety can make symptoms worse
  • if the reaction is extreme with swelling or difficulty breathing & the victim “Has an Epi-Pen” or epinephrine auto-injector help the person use it. “Make sure to follow the 5 rights of medication assistance” and Assist “Don’t Give” the victims medication.
  • Always refer the victim to an emergency facility if the allergic reaction is severe “Anaphylaxis” and seek medical attention. Symptoms may return even after using an Epi-Pen within as little as 15 minutes.

To Assist with an Epinephrine Auto-Injector

  1. Check the 5 Rights of Medication before assisting
  2. Help the victim remove the safety cap “Blue to the sky
  3. Tell the person to firmly place the injector tip “Orange against the Thigh” hard enough to hear or feel the needle release. “Click” and hold for 10 seconds.
  4. Remove the Auto-Injector
  5. Keep the Auto-Injector with the victim for proper disposal at the hospital.

If you have an allergy, read ingredients or labels carefully and always be sure to ask when you are eating out about what is in the food. Avoid allergens and be sure to check with your physician about childhood allergies.

In Any Emergency Remember To:
Protect Yourself!!! Call 911!!! Don’t Waste Time!!!

Swoop in & Give a Breath of Life, Let First Aid Training in Edmonton be your Saving Grace.

Assisting With Medications During First Aid

Should I give a medication to someone who asks for it? Should I help a person to take their medications? Should I keep extra medications in my first aid kit just in case? These questions are some of the more prominent questions we are asked in class as we instruct First Aid students on how to help with Medications during a First Aid situation.

To shed some light on Medication use in First Aid scenarios & according to the Alberta Occupational Health & Safety regulations First Aid attendants have very specific guidelines on what they can and should not do with Medications in First Aid.

To make this easy “In Alberta” First Aiders are “NOT Allowed” to diagnose, prescribe or administer “Give” any medication. However they are allowed to “Assist” individuals with their “own” prescribed medication if the casualty identifies the medication on their own & is able to take it without assistance.

What does this mean about giving medications in an emergency? Simply put “you CAN Assistbutyou can NOT Give“. The victim must take the medications on their own and be of sound enough mind to understand the risks. This includes all over the counter medications and above counter medications.

To Assist With Medications:

  • The ill or injured person must be conscious and able to understand the risks involved with taking a medication & be able to take it themselves “Self Administration
  • The First Aiders Assistance should be limited to preparing the medication for the victim, this is restricted to but includes oral & auto-injected medications.
  • The victim should be certain that nothing will interfere or react negatively with the medication and should follow the written instructions on the label / device.
  • The Five Rights of Medications are met:
  1. Right Person – If it is a prescribed medication the names match the person taking it on the label.
  2. Right Medication – Use the appropriate medication for the situation “Read the Label”
  3. Right Amount – Follow directions on the bottle / device or package on how much the victim should receive
  4. Right Time – Help the victim “Before they hit the Floor“, the victim must be conscious and able to understand how to use medications.
  5. Right Method – There are only 4 ways a medication can get into your body “Injected / Inhaled / Ingested or AbsorbedRead the Label & follow the Directions carefully.

For medications in first aid kits just remember that medications are subject to the individual’s needs. This means that stocking a first aid kit with medications is not advised as each person has different requirements on medications and they should only take those that are prescribed for themselves or have the medication on them.

In any Emergency remember too:
Protect Yourself!!! Call 911!!! Don’t Waste Time!!!

Swoop in and give a Breath of Life, Let First Aid Training be your Saving Grace.


Breathing Emergencies & How to Help

Breathing Emergencies or Respiratory Distress as known by many health care providers refers to a person who can’t breath properly, is having difficulty breathing or has stopped breathing “Respiratory Arrest“. Each of these breathing emergencies pose a potential threat to a persons life as once oxygen has been cut off from the brain, brain cells begin to deteriorate. On average brain cells will begin to degrade within 4-6 minutes, in essence “Don’t Waist Timewith Breathing Emergencies.

Common Causes of Breathing Difficulty:

  • Hyperventilation
  • Asthma
  • Allergic Reactions or even Anaphylaxis
  • Chest Injuries
  • Anxiety or Distress

Some common causes of Hyperventilation the upset of oxygen and carbon dioxide within the body are : Excitement, fear or anxiety, Asthma, Head / Brain injuries, exercise, severe bleeding, injury / intense pain, medical conditions & illness.

What to watch for:

  • Rapid shallow breaths
  • A suffocating feeling like they are not getting enough air
  • Fear or anxiety & confusion
  • Numbness, dizziness tingling in the fingers or toes

How to Help:

  1. Make sure the area is safe for you to help the victim “Protect Yourself!!!” If safe to do so check the victim.
  2. Call 911!!!” or have someone like a bystander assist and Call 911 for you if there are injuries or potential underlying medical conditions while you provide care.
  3. Don’t Waste Time!!!” Help the victim to relax in a position of comfort and breathe slowly, assist with medications if they have their own for this specific reason. Treat the cause of the breathing emergency if it is known, often hyperventilation can be slowed or stopped by simply offering comfort, warmth and reassurance.
  4. Double check and perform a secondary survey while waiting for medical aid and treat any non life threatening conditions.
  • If you are Alone and the victim becomes unconscious or the hyperventilation does not stop Call 911 yourself, get an AED if possible and then return to provide care while awaiting medical aid.

Preventing Breathing Emergencies:
Some people tend to hyperventilate with anxiety, panic disorders, stress or fatigue due to exertion. To help with these try to practice breathing exercise or relaxation techniques to help slow your breathing rate as well as relax your mind. Remember once a person has breathing trouble panic is a natural response which will increase their breathing rate. Victims with Asthma can usually breath ” IN ” but have trouble breathing ” OUT “.

For Any Emergency Just Remember Too:
Protect Yourself!!! Call 911!!! Don’t Waste Time!!!

Swoop into first aid & give a breath of life, let first aid training be your Saving Grace

Choking, Larger or Pregnant Victims What to look for & How to Help

As we have mentioned in our previous posts Choking is an emergency that can affect anyone of any age, size or gender. For this post we will focus on those with unique situations like being pregnant, beings seated or just being a larger person. These special scenario’s are designed to help you gain extra knowledge to aid a variety of victims of any nature.

The most common causes of chocking include trying to swallow large pieces of food, eating while talking, walking or playing, being under the influence of an intoxicant or elicit substance while eating.

What to look for:

  • Inability to speak, cough or breath
  • Change in face color like bluish, red, or paler than normal
  • Look of panic with wide eyes “Fear”
  • One or both hands clutching the throat or flailing
  • High pitch whistle or noise when they attempt to breath or cough
  • They may suddenly attempt to rush to the restroom

For the Pregnant or Larger Person:
As mentioned in the Post “Choking, What to look for & How to Help” perform your 5 FIRM BACK BLOWS but instead of giving abdominal J thrusts perform 5 CHEST THRUSTS. Alternate between your 5 FIRM BACK BLOWS & 5 FIRM CHEST THRUSTS until the object comes free or the person begins to breath, cough or becomes unconscious.

To Perform the Chest Thrusts:

  1. Stand behind the victim and wrap both arms around the person’s chest under the armpits.
  2. Make a fist and place the thumb side of your fist in the center of the victims chest “Above the bosoms”
  3. Place your other hand over your first and pull back towards you sharply 5 Times.
  4. Continue until the object comes free or the victim becomes unconscious, if the victim becomes unconscious call 911 & Begin CPR 30 Chest Compression 2 Breaths watching for the object to come free. If you can see the object remove it, never perform a blind finger sweep!

For the Seated Victim:

  • For the person in a wheelchair “Lock the wheels in position”
  1. Kneel or crouch behind the victim
  2. wrap your arms around the victim placing a fist “Thumb side in” against the abdomen just above the belly button.
  3. Grip your fist with your other hand and pull sharply in and up in a ” J ” like motion 5 times.
  4. Move your fist to the center of the victims chest and grip your first with your other hand pulling sharply in 5 times
  5. Alternate your 5 Abdominal ” J ” Thrusts & 5 Chest Thrusts until the object comes free or the victim becomes unconscious.

In any emergency remember to:
Protect Yourself!!! Call 911!!! Don’t Waste Time!!!

Swoop into first aid & give a breath of life, let first aid be your Saving Grace.

Choking Infant, What to Look for & How to Help

For many new parents choking can potentially be one of the biggest threats to a new born or Infants life. It happens so fast and almost anything can cause it as the little ones seem to have a knack for putting just about everything in their mouths. Many Doctors will refer new parents to take a First Aid course prior to the arrival of their newest Minion to help prepare and arm them in the best techniques and knowledge in case of emergencies, for this very same reason we offer a variety of Child Care First Aid courses.

Age Groups can be tricky so we have the following break down, infants are from the age of 0-1 or when they begin to wear toddler size pants and are ambulatory, Children are from 1 to pubescence or 8 years old, anyone with signs of pubescence on is classified as an Adult. For this Post we will focus on Infants or Babies age 0 to 1.

Recognize Chocking in Infants:
Infants just like all age groups have a way to communicate and their basic language once you figure it out can be invaluable to any parent. All infants are equipped with the same “Body Language” which gives us as parents or guardians an edge on how to communicate with any infant. “Pooping Face is Pooping Face” no matter where your place of birth is, just like Choking face is Choking Face. Babies or Infants all have relatively the same reaction to Chocking and the signs are easy to spot once you’ve seen them and had light shed on it.

  • The Baby will stiffen their arms either up above their head or straight out clenching their fist or have open palms
  • The Baby will lean forward
  • The Baby will attempt to clear their own airway with a strained “cugh” sound
  • If the Babies airway is completely blocked no sound will be heard and rapid face color change may occur then unconsciousness.

For the Conscious Choking Baby “Don’t Waste Time”

  1. Crouch down & Sandwich the baby between your forearms supporting the head
  2. Turn the Baby face down with the head lower than the body “Draw them in close to your body like a clutch or football
  3. Lower your forearm with the baby onto your thigh so the head is lower than the feet and the infants back is facing you.
  4. Deliver 5 FIRM BACK BLOWS between the shoulder blades to dislodge the object.
  5. If the object has not been dislodged, while supporting the head roll/turn the baby face up with your supporting arm on your thigh.
  6. Place 2 fingers on the middle of the chest just below the nipple line and “Push hard, Push Fast” about 1/3rd the depth of the chest delivering 5 FIRM CHEST THRUSTS.
  7. Repeat the 5 FIRM BACK BLOWS & 5 FIRM CHEST THRUSTS until the object comes free or the infant becomes unconscious.

If the Baby becomes unconscious place them on a firm flat surface “Floor” and begin CPR immediately! 30 Compression 2 breaths, the object may come free once CPR has began. If you can see the object Never attempt to Grab it between your fingers & Never perform a “Blind Finger Sweep” you only want to sweep for an object if you can see it.

To Perform a Finger Sweep:

  1. Using your Pinkie Finger “Hook” your finger into their mouth using their cheek as a guide to slip your finger between the cheek and gums to the back of the throat behind the object.
  2. Roll” your wrist so that your pinkie finger is positioned under the object.
  3. Flick” the object free

-HOOK / ROLL / FLICK & BE QUICK That is the Pinkie Trick-

In any emergency just remember too:
Protect Yourself!!! Call 911!!! Don’t Waste Time!!!

Swoop into First Aid & Give a Breath of Life, let First Aid Be YOUR Saving Grace.


Choking, How to Help & What to Look for

Choking can happen to anyone of any age, and is one of the worst fears for many new parents as it happens fast causing serious problems including death. In most cases where the victim can still cough the object will come free on its own. However once the victim is unable to cough anymore the airway is potentially blocked and the victims life is now in jeopardy.

The most common causes of chocking include trying to swallow large pieces of food, eating while talking, walking or playing, being under the influence of an intoxicant or elicit substance while eating.

What to look for:

  • Inability to speak, cough or breath
  • Change in face color like bluish, red, or paler than normal
  • Look of panic with wide eyes “Fear”
  • One or both hands clutching the throat or flailing
  • High pitch whistle or noise when they attempt to breath or cough

In the Adult or Child once you have identified yourself and that you are going to attempt to help them:

  1. Encourage the Victim to continue to cough the object free
  2. If the victim can no longer cough, speak or breathe
  • Stand or kneel beside the victim and wrap one arm diagonally across the victims chest
  • Bend the victim forward at the waist at a 90 degree angle
  • With the palm of your hand deliver 5 FIRM BACK BLOWS between the shoulder blades to encourage them to cough.

3) If the object has NOT come free in the first 5 Back Blows

  • Quickly stand the victim up strait and place one hand in a first just above the belly button thumb side in.
  • Place your other hand over your fist hand and pull sharply in and up in a ” J ” like Motion 5 Times

4) Repeat the 5 FIRM BACK BLOWS & the 5 ABDOMINAL J THRUSTS until they POP or DROP.

5) If the Victim becomes unconscious and is not breathing Call for help 911 and begin CPR 30 Compression, 2 Breaths, Repeat 5 Times in a row.After your 5th cycle of 30/2 if the victim is not breathing repeat until help arrives.

To prevent yourself or others from chocking just remind them to chew food well before swallowing, eat slowly and calmly, try not to talk, laugh or do physical activities while chewing and avoid mixing meals with other substances which could alter your personality.

In any situation remember to
Protect Yourself!!! Call 911!!! Don’t Waste Time!!!

Swoop Into First Aid and Give a Breath of Life, Let First Aid Be your Saving Grace

What to do while you wait for an Ambulance?

After rescuing a victim there are many things that can be flowing through your mind. Did I do this right? Was my First Aid technique proper? Is there anything else I can do to help the victim? These questions are normal and there are even more that will pop in during an emergency.

Normally an Ambulance within an Urban setting can take anywhere from 5 too 25 minutes to respond, in Rural area’s response time can vary from 15 to 40 minutes an in most cases where distance is past 30 to 45 minutes a helicopter service may be deployed to meet you somewhere. In essence this means after you’ve rescued the victim you may have a little time to make sure that your First Aid techniques have helped.

We call this skill while your waiting a “Secondary Survey“, its your second chance to find something you might have missed during your primary survey. The Secondary Survey can be performed quite easily in two simple fashions, Hands On or Hands Off. What we mean by this is you can pat the person down from head to toe looking for injuries you might have missed “Hands On“, or “Hands Off” and ask the victim to tell you what’s going on.

Both techniques are easily performed but have their uses, the Hands on Check is normally performed for victims rendered unconscious due to the emergency they experienced, and the Hands Off check likewise is performed for victims still conscious enough to walk you through the emergency by asking them the SAMPLE history questions.

What to Do while waiting for an emergency?

  1. Care for the cause of the Emergency
  2. Have the victim rest in a position of comfort or the Recovery Position
  3. Keep the victim warm
  4. Ensure the victim is breathing and has an open airway
  5. Offer comfort, warmth and reassurance
  6. Double check “Hands on / Hands Off” SAMPLE Questions
  • S – Signs & Symptoms -Whats wrong
  • A – Allergies – Do you have any?
  • M – Medications – Are you on any?
  • P – Past Medical History – Has this happened before?
  • L – Last Meal – When / What did you eat least?
  • E – Event – Do you remember everything?

In any Emergency Setting just remember to:
Protect Yourself!!! Call 911!!! Don’t Waste Time!!!

Swoop into First Aid and Give a Breath of Life, Let your First Aid Training be your Saving Grace.

SHOCK – What to look for & How to Help

Shock is one of those things that all of us will experience sometime in our life and yet many of us have forgotten that it also can be a deadly scenario. “Shock Always Has A Cause” and that’s one thing that we can use to help us treat it, once you figure out what has caused it “Fix it” and shock will begin to lessen.

Shock happens when your body goes through a sudden internal or external event causing the body to demand more oxygen rich blood. In doing so the body will focus the remaining oxygen rich blood it has into key body parts to sustain your life and yet leave others unattended. Any vital organ which does not have enough blood or oxygen will eventually begin to fail. This is why “Shock Can Be Deadly“.

Anyone can go into Shock, even those rescuing the victims
To make it easy just remember that “It Doesn’t Matter what caused the Victim to go into shock” once you figure out what caused it “Fix it“.

Shock can often be caused by:
-Excessive Blood Loss – A Weak Heart – Extensive Burns – Infection – Excessive Fluid Loss – Fear or Anxiety – and many more

What to look for:
Altered Personality – Extreme Anxiety – Cool / Clammy Skin – Pale Skin tone – Confusion – Excessive thirst – Rapid Breathing – Nausea / Vomiting / weakness – Drowsiness.

How to help:

  • Move or Remove the victim “If possible” from the area that may be causing the shock.
  • Assess the victim and find the root of the cause “Shock Always Has A Cause”
  • Offer comfort / warmth and reassurance
  • Treat the cause of the shock and follow your local emergency response techniques.

In any situation we hope that you follow the simple rules

Protect Yourself!!! Call 911!!! Don’t Waste Time!!!


How to Help a Victim into the Recovery Position

There are many different ways to help a victim during an emergency, but what can we do if we find someone unconscious? If the victim is “Unconscious without Spine Injuries” the Recovery Position is designed to help keep the victims airway open as well as keeping the Head, Neck & Spine in a relatively strait line so that they can Recover. Many people have used this position not even thinking about it when they were even sick, injured or intoxicated.

To Perform the Recovery Position:

  1. Kneel Beside the victim and place the victims furthest arm from you above their head.
  2. Place the arm closest to you across the victims chest as a protector arm.
  3. The Key is in their Knee, bend the nearest leg up at the knee.
  4. Carefully slip your hand under the hollow of the victims neck to support the Head Neck & Spine, at the same time use your forearm by slipping it carefully under the shoulder for leverage.
  5. Place your free hand on the Key Knee and gently roll the victim away from you by applying steady pressure against the knee and shoulder at the same time. The victims head should rest on their raised arm.
  6. To secure the position pull the key knee further up and bring their protector arm out to use the elbow to stabilize the position.
  7. Check the Airway to make sure their still breathing.

We never know what can happen, its always good to be prepared and have the knowledge we need to help those who need it.

Just Remember too:
Protect Yourself!!! Call 911!!! Don’t Waste Time!!!

Assisting a Conscious, Drowning Victim

Drowning can be a very dangerous situation not only for the victim but also for those attempting to rescue people in danger of drowning. You should always refer to a special trained rescuer like a lifeguard to rescue someone by swimming out. The fear of drowning can cause a panic response in victims which can lead to the victim inadvertently dragging the rescuer down with them.

If you do see someone in danger of drowning and you have access to flotation devices like water-boards, pool noodles or something that you can hold out to reach the victim follow these simple steps:

  1. Lay down flat on the ground to gain an anchor point for your body, spread your legs and firmly brace yourself.
  2. Hold out the object so that the victim can grab it.
  3. Brace yourself and pull the victim towards the edge of the water allowing the victim to secure themselves.
  4. Help the victim from the water if safe to do so.

In any Emergency just remember to:
Protect yourself!!! Call 911!!! Don’t Waste Time!!!

A Tid Bit About Emergencies