Emergency First Aid

If someone collapses – Shout for help. Have someone phone, or phone 999 / 112. Have someone get the nearest AED. Put your phone on loudspeaker. Begin CPR. Do not stop CPR.

Know your Eircode (Postcode) to assist the ambulance getting to you quicker – http://www.eircode.ie

Ensure that your children know your phone number, and your address.

(Text service available for the deaf on www.112.ie)


Heart Attack / Angina Attack / Cardiac Chest Pain

A heart attack is a life threatening event that happens when the coronary arteries that supply blood to your heart muscle suddenly become blocked.

If this blockage happens it causes damage to your heart muscle. You might also hear of a heart attack called acute coronary syndrome, or myocardial infarction (MI).

The signs and symptoms of a heart attack may include some of the following:

  • cardiac chest pain: the pain is usually located in the centre of your chest, and can feel like a sensation of pressure, tightness or squeezing 
  • pain in other parts of the body: it can feel as if the pain is travelling/shooting from your chest to your arms (usually the left arm is affected, but it can affect both arms), jaw, neck, back and abdomen 
  • shortness of breath / gasping
  • indigestion / heart burn / stomach discomfort
  • nausea
  • sweating
  • an overwhelming sense of anxiety (similar to having a panic attack) 
  • feeling of impending doom
  • feeling light-headed / dizzy
  • sudden collapse / weakness
  • pale / grey skin, blue lips
  • fast, weak or irregular pulse
  • coughing 
  • vomiting 
  • wheezing

Treating a Heart Attack / Angina Attack / Cardiac Chest Pain:

  • Call 112 immediately, and seek nearby help.
  • Discreetly ask someone nearby to go and get the nearest defibrillator, in case the patient goes into cardiac arrest.
  • Sit patient down slowly, on the floor in case of collapse, leaning slightly forward, knees bent, resting arms and shoulders. Place pillow / coat under knees and behind patient. Make comfortable.
  • Loosen any tight-fitting clothing, particularly around the neck and chest.
  • Check if patient has taken their daily medication, and assist them if not.
  • Assist patient with any medications that they may have been prescribed to take for an attack (e.g. tablet, or under-the-tongue spray).
  • If over 16 years-old, with no severe aspirin allergy, no active bleeding ulcer, and no bleeding disorder – give patient 300 m.g. aspirin tablet to chew slowly (e.g. Dispirin Direct tablet).
  • Advise patient to rest and relax. Reassure and calm the patient.
  • Call a friend or relative for them.
  • Relieve any worries or stresses that they might have, e.g. contact their work, make arrangements for a relative / pet that they are caring for.
  • Encourage fresh air by opening windows / doors.
  • Be prepared to do CPR if the patient stops breathing normally.
  • Find out important information to pass on to ambulance crew, e.g. name, age, medical history/conditions, medications, previous meals.


What happens when you choke?

A foreign object, i.e. food, drinks, coins or parts of toys get into the “wrong tube”.

Instead of passing through the oesophagus it ends up in the trachea and blocks the air entry into the lungs.

Choking prevents breathing, and can be partial, or complete. A person who has a partial airway obstruction will still get some air into the lungs but the volume of air is inadequate.

If you come across a casualty with a complete airway obstruction you have approximately 4 minutes before the victims loses consciousness.

Signs and symptoms

  1. The person can’t speak, or shout for help
  2. If breathing is still possible it often produces a wheezing or gasping noise
  3. The victim is trying to cough up the object
  4. The casualty clutches his / her hands around the throat – the universal sign for choking
  5. If breathing can’t be restored, the casualty’s lips and face will turn blue (cyanotic), and he/she will become unconscious eventually
  6. Casualty will be anxious and have impending sense of doom

First Aid treatment:

There are four steps that you should follow for adults and children over 1:

1. Call for ambulance on 112.
2. Encourage the victim to cough.
Always ask the person if he/she can cough and if so encourage it

3. Back slaps

Deliver 5 hard backslaps with the heel of the hand between the shoulder blades. After each slap check if the object has been dislodged

3. Abdominal thrusts, or better known as Heimlich Manoeuvre

The Heimlich Manoeuvre is most likely one of best known First Aid techniques. You are trying to push the foreign object back out of the trachea / wind pipe by exerting pressure on the bottom of the diaphragm. This compresses the lungs and exerts pressure on any object lodged in the trachea, hopefully expelling it.

Deliver 5 abdominal thrusts, checking if the obstruction has moved after each thrust. Alternate between 5 back slaps, and 5 abdominal thrusts until the obstruction is expelled, or patient goes unresponsive. If unresponsive and not breathing – start CPR.

What do you do if it happens to a child or infant?

Children over the age of 1 receive the same First Aid treatment as adults. The only difference is that the rescuer has to position himself differently as the victim is much smaller.

Infants (children under the age of 1) :

1. Lay the baby face down along your forearm, with their head low. Support the jaw with your fingers.

2. Give up to 5 back blows between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand. Check their mouth quickly after each one, and remove any obvious obstruction.

3. If the obstruction is still present, turn the baby onto their back, and give up to 5 chest thrusts, with 2 fingers in the middle of the chest, pushing inwards and upwards. Check the mouth quickly after each one. 

If the obstruction does not clear after three cycles of back blows and chest thrusts, dial 999 (or 112) for an ambulance.

Tips to prevent choking in children and infants:

According to one study, nearly two-thirds of the children who choked to death during a 20-year period were 3 years old or younger. The majority of choking deaths are caused by toys and household items. The most common cause of non fatal choking incidents is food. In one study, nearly 70% of choking cases presented in the accident and emergency department were caused by foods such as hotdogs, nuts, and vegetable and fruit pieces.

  • Insist that your child sits at the table while eating
  • Cut hotdogs, grapes, sausages, or carrots length ways 
  • Avoid peanuts for children under the age of 7
  • Other foods like popcorn, mints or raisins can be dangerous
  • Follow the age recommendation for toys
  • Make sure coins, marbles, batteries, small cars with rubber wheels and balloons are kept out of reach