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Daniella Westbrook hailed a ‘hero’ for quick thinking first aid – would you know what to do?

Kim Hookem-Smith
Yahoo Lifestyle
30 January 2013

Former EastEnder Daniella Westbrook has been praised for her quick thinking and knowledge of first aid, after rushing to help a man who collapsed in front of her in London’s West End.

The 39-year-old actress said she was 'just doing her bit' but would you know what to do in that situation? We asked the experts at St John Ambulance (SJA) for the essentials you need to know to save a life.

They tell us: If you come across somebody collapsed in the street, the first thing you should do is a quick primary survey. The following steps are easy to carry out (D-R-A-B-C):

D – Check for Danger. Are you or they in any danger?
R – Check for a Response. Shout a command at them: 'Can you hear me?' Gently shake their shoulders. If they respond, check for severe bleeding, other injuries and treat them if you are able. Shout for help.
If they don’t respond move on to the next step.
A – Open the Airway. Help them to breathe by opening their airway. To do this, place one hand on their forehead and lift the chin using two fingers.
B – Check Breathing. Position your cheek close to their mouth.
•    Look, listen and feel for no more than 10 seconds:
•    Look to see if the chest is rising and falling
•    Listen for breathing
•    Feel the breath against your cheek
C – Check Circulation. Is the casualty bleeding severely? This must be treated since it can lead to shock.

[Related: Forgotten first aid kills more than cancer]

If you haven’t had first aid training can you help?

Many people who are not first aid trained worry that they will do more damage than good if they intervene, but it is often the actions of bystanders in first few minutes after an incident that can be the difference between life and death.

If you find that the casualty is not breathing normally, don’t worry about checking for any bleeding, you should call 999 for emergency help and start CPR as follows:

•    Position the heel of one hand on the centre of the casualty’s chest and place the other hand on top of it, interlocking your fingers. Make sure you keep your fingers off the casualty’s ribs.
•    Lean directly over the casualty’s chest and, keeping your arms straight, press down vertically about 6cm.  Making sure not to remove your hands, release the pressure on the chest. Give 30 of these compressions, at a rate of 120 per minute.
•    Tilt the casualty’s head with one hand and lift their chin with two fingers of your other hand. Pinch the nostrils closed. Take a breath and seal your lips completely over the casualty’s mouth. Blow steadily for one second until the chest rises.
•    Keeping the airway open, take your mouth away from the casualty’s and look along their chest until you see it fall. Repeat so you give two rescue breaths.
•    Repeat the 30 chest compressions and two rescue breaths combination until emergency help arrives, the casualty shows signs of recovering and begins to wake up or you are too exhausted to carry on.

If you have no first aid training and are unsure about giving rescue breaths, just give chest compressions only until an ambulance arrives. Remember Vinnie Jones' 'Stayin' Alive' technique?

Many people who are not first aid trained worry that they will do more damage than good if they intervene, but it is often the actions of bystanders in first few minutes after an incident that can be the difference between life and death.

If the casualty is unconscious but breathing, you should place them into the recovery position and call 999 for emergency help. You should monitor their breathing until paramedics arrive.

Is there anything you should definitely not do?

You should never put yourself or the casualty in further danger – if it is not safe, do not approach and call 999 immediately.

You should try not to panic as this may affect how you administer first aid. It is important to always reassure the casualty to prevent heightening stress or shock.

If the casualty appears to have any fractures or broken bones, it is often best to not attempt to move them, unless they are in immediate danger, e.g. the house is on fire. However, it is important to always check that their airway is clear.

What options are there to get basic first aid training?

You can sign up to an Essential first aid course with St John Ambulance.

Alternatively you can download the St John Ambulance first aid app for free or watch our helpful first aid videos online.

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