First Aid

for adults

Breathing Difficulties

If someone stops breathing, see if the person replies if talked to or touched on the shoulder.

But if you're alone, perform basic life support for one minute before going for help.

If not, call for help – and immediately begin first aid. Send bystanders for help.

  1. Place the person on his or her back on the floor.
  2. Tilt the head, so that the chin is pointing upwards. Do this by placing the fingertips under the jawbone, then lift gently while pressing down softly on the person's forehead. This is done to make sure the tongue is not blocking the throat.
  3. Keep holding the head in this way while checking for breathing. Look if the chest is rising and falling, or place your ear next to their mouth to listen for breathing and feel breath on your cheek. Only check for 10 seconds.
  4. If there's normal breathing, hold the head as described above until help arrives. If there's no breathing or gasping breaths, start basic life support.


With all types of bleeding, it's important to stop the flow of blood as quickly as possible.


Choking happens when the passage through the windpipe is blocked. This usually occurs when food that hasn't been thoroughly chewed gets stuck.

If someone looks like they're choking, ask them if they're able to talk.

A person who is genuinely choking can usually only communicate with hand movements, and may place their hand against their throat. In such a case they will definitely need help, so summon assistance for them.

Provided the person is conscious and talking, you should not interfere. Encourage them to cough. However, be prepared to do so, if the obstruction appears to become complete or markedly worse.

If the person is conscious, but struggling to breath, stand behind them and lean their head slightly forward.

Using a flat palm, strike them forcefully between the shoulder blades, in the hope they will cough up (and out) the item causing choking. Repeat up to five times. If unsuccessful, proceed to the Heimlich manoeuvre:


Shock occurs when too little blood circulates to the brain.

This means that the brain is not receiving enough oxygen, which leads to a feeling of faintness, disorientation and dizziness.

Shock may occur:

  • after an accident involving loss of blood
  • after a serious infection, with loss of fluids
  • after a serious burn
  • after other accidents that cause loss of fluids or blood
  • as part of an allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).

When there is not enough blood in the blood vessels, the blood pressure drops and too little oxygen is circulated to the brain.

Nose Bleeds

Nosebleeds occur when one of the small blood vessels in the mucous membranes of the nose bursts. Blood may also run into the stomach and then be vomited up.

Do not bend the head backwards or lie down, because this increases blood pressure in the head and so increases the bleeding.