More grave news from UK hospitals, as A&E and planned surgical operations are routinely being missed, according to research from the BBC. In fact, England, Wales and Northern Ireland have all missed three key targets for 18 months, with only Scotland seeing any success in the past year.
Which makes for bad news if you’re headed to your local surgery. Instead, arm yourself with these 13 tips to make sure you never have to go.
When an emergency strikes you want to be the first man to jump in. Why? You’ll get endless praise, maybe a medal, plus women will swoon at your story. Oh, and your altruistic act could save another precious human life, possibly a friend or partner. But yes, you’ll probably get a mention in the local paper.
And the best bit? It’s so simple. We spoke to Joe Mulligan, head of first-aid education at the Red Cross, to find out the essentials every man needs to be a hero.
How to save somebody from choking
If somebody’s eaten more than they can chew in a restaurant then you’re supposed to go for the Heimlich maneuver, right? No. “Just bend them over a little and hit them forcefully between the shoulder blades to dislodge whatever is stuck in their throat,” says Mulligan. Then just wait for the applause.
How to save somebody who’s collapsed and breathing
If you’re on your commute and find someone lying on the floor then talk to them (try asking for their name rather than striking up a conversation about the weather). If they don’t respond to small talk then check their breathing: tilt their head back, feel for their breath and see if their chest is rising and falling. If they are breathing then roll them over to their side (no complicated recovery position needed), tilt their head back.
How to save somebody who’s collapsed and not breathing
No need to pucker up, Casanova; the kiss of life won’t won’t be necessary. And nor will finding a pulse. Simply go straight the automated external defibrillator (AED) machines found in most public locations to restore their normal heart rhythm. Shock them within 3–5 min of collapse and you’ll increase their chance of survival by 70%.
Don’t worry, it’s easier than it sounds. “You just open the box and follow the voice prompts. It tells you what to do and it will not deliver a shock unless the person needs it. If you can use a toaster you can use a defib,” says Mulligan. (Note: don’t actually use a toaster.)
How to save somebody with CPR
Found somebody who’s unresponsive, not breathing and you’re down a defibrillator? You need to start the chest compressions in timing to some Bee Gees classic, right? Not necessarily.
“There’s a lot of information about songs to get your rhythm right, but that’s just to help your stamina,” says Mulligan. “If you’re in a group of people then each person can go as fast as possible if you take turns with the compressions.”
Just make sure when it’s your turn to hold one hand on top of the other and push down five or six centimeters into the centre of their chest. And no, you don’t need to break any ribs for it to work and it’s extremely unlikely you’ll kill somebody by doing chest compressions if they don’t actually need it.
How to save somebody from a heart attack
If you’re working out and your gym buddy suddenly feels a vice-like crushing in their chest then who you gunna call? The paramedics (Ghostbusters will lack the requisite expertise). And until the professionals arrive you can do your bit by getting your mate to take some aspirin to slow their blood clotting.
How to save somebody from a diabetic attack
Is the diabetic in your office feeling dangerously woozy and tired? You can save them with a few sophisticated gadgets: Mentos and Skittles. Yes, sweets from your secret snack drawer will raise their blood sugar for a lot longer than a can of fizz. Looks like despite how much Batman moans about it, being a hero is actually very easy.
How to save somebody who’s taken a knock to the head
If a mate has accidentally run into the post during a kick-about then save your laughs until you’ve got a bag of peas compressed to their head. And don’t you need to keep them awake for a few hours in case they have concussion too? “Nope, stopping somebody from sleeping will do absolutely nothing,” says Mulligan.
However, you’ve got a problem if they’re feeling woozy five minutes later. Dash them to a hospital as that could indicate something underlying condition. Better safe than sorry.
How to save somebody who’s burned
If that clumsy housemate of yours has spilt a cup of hot coffee on themselves then don’t waste time with lotions or creams. Instead, go back to basics and run the burn under a tap for 10 minutes. And if they’ve managed to burn themselves over a large area then soak it, wrap it in clingfilm to keep it clean and reduce the chance of scarring and speed down to A&E.
How to save somebody’s tooth
As funny as it would be to leave your friend with a permanently gappy grin, there is a simple way to save their embarrassment if they knock a tooth out. Just place it in a small container of milk or saliva to stop it drying out until you whisk them to the dentist.