First Aid
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Basic Information

First aid is the branch of medicine which involves giving immediate aid to a casualty with the aims of preserving life, preventing further injury and promoting recovery. Although first aid can be administered by trained medical professionals it is designed to be usable by anyone who is not significantly handicapped and so relies on a small number of simple, easily performed techniques which should not involve surgery or the administration of drugs. Ideally a first aider should be able to maintain the casualty's breathing (either autonomously or via rescue breathing), arrest any bleeding and stabilise and protect fractures and burns (roughly in that order of priority) until either the casualty can be evacuated (possibly under their own steam) or medical professionals arrive to take over. Modern first aid also increasingly promotes the use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs), which can prove a highly effective response to many common forms of cardiac arrest.

Higher levels of first aid, especially those used by the military, may include limited use of drugs, blood substitutes and similar things, but these tend to edge into paramedicine.

The first aid kit is generally regarded as standard equipment for performing first aid, although it should be possible to take effective action without one.

Some forms of pre-modern first aid - including measures still current in the popular imagination - are more or less useless and even prone to doing more harm than good.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Realistically this is a skill most PCs should have - many systems assume it. For those that don't, GMs may wish to remind players to include it in their character's skillset to avoid embarrassment.
  • Bad first aid can be lethal - anyone spending time around first aiders, paramedics and the like will eventually hear horror stories such as attempts to secure a casualty's airway by safety-pinning their tongue to their lip or treating a hypoglycaemic attack by rectal insertion of a chocolate bar. As a general guide, first aid shouldn't include inserting anything into the casualty (with the possible exception of plugging gunshot wounds with tampons, and even then…).
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