5 Steps to Emergency Response that Everyone Should Know


A first aid emergency can happen anywhere, at any time. At home, one of your friends or family could collapse with a heart attack. On the street, or in a shop, someone could faint and fall. Knowing what to do is critical in those first few moments.


But many of us don’t know, or don’t remember what to do when things go wrong. We can freeze in the face of an emergency and panic. We could look around hoping that someone else will act, know what to do or be better trained than we are.


Often though, you will be the person best placed to respond and provide immediate, life-saving support. You don’t need to be a security expert, doctor or have had first aid or security training. There are 5 simple things that you can do immediately if someone collapses near you. Just follow these steps to respond appropriately.


1. Check for danger

You need to make sure it is safe for you to respond. Look around and make sure that you won’t be putting yourself in danger while trying to help the person. We’ve all heard stories about the person who can’t swim attempting to rescue someone who is drowning. Suddenly, there’s two people who need help instead of one. Make sure that the environment around the person is safe for you to be in before you respond.


2. Send for help

Even if you can help the person, they will likely need additional medical care. After you have checked for danger call for medical help if you are in a country where that is provided. If others are around, instruct someone to call for medical care while you begin to respond.


3. Response

When you know that you’ll be safe in helping move close enough to the person so they can hear you. Speak to them. Do they respond? Can they hear your voice? Are they moving at all? Can they open and close their eyes? Ask permission and touch them – is there any response?


4. Airway / Breathing

If there is no response, next check to see if they are breathing. Put your ear close to their nose and mouth. Can you hear them breathing? Is their chest/stomach moving up and down? Is their head in a position which means that they can’t breathe? If their airway is blocked, often you can clear it by removing the obstruction or tilting their chin up.


5. Circulation

Blood circulates through our bodies constantly and is vital to remaining alive! You should next check to see if the casualty’s blood is circulating. Check their pulse at their wrist or neck. Feel their chest to see if you can feel their heart beating.


Depending on what happens during these initial 5 steps, and what first aid training you have, you may begin an emergency response like CPR or the Heimlich manoeuvre. However, even if you have no other first aid training knowing these critical 5 steps can be life saving for someone in an emergency.


Want to know more? Check out some of the information and apps out there and available for free!


  • British Red Cross Apps: A range of first aid skills taught through downloadable apps.

  • Citizen Aid App: This UK charity produces apps and other items which can help you know how to respond in an emergency. Click here.

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