First Aid Tips | City of Monroe, Louisiana

First Aid Tips

"Accidents happen. Life threatening illnesses and injuries happen to friends, family, and loved ones. Other times, sudden illness or injury can affect a stranger in a public setting."

It's in these sometimes stressful situations that some basic education in first aid can be critical to preventing further injury or illness. It is highly recommended, especially if you are the parent or guardian of a small child, or a caregiver of an elderly to attend a First Aid or First Responder certification class. Currently, the Monroe Fire Department does not offer First Responder or First Aid classes to the public. However, here are some tips to keep in mind in the event of an illness or injury.

Note: These tips are provided for the convenience to our site visitors for entertainment and research purposes and only represent general guidelines to helping victims of illness and accidents. These guidelines do not take into account any unique situations you may face if you or someone you know is a victim and needs first aid. These guidelines are no substitute for calling 911 and requesting an ambulance. Call 911 and/or your personal physician in the event of an accident or sudden illness. Follow the instructions given by the ambulance service dispatcher or doctor's office.

Broken Bones

Broken bones can either be closed, where the skin is intact, or compound, where part of the bone has broken through the skin and is protruding out. Both are serious emergencies and should be given immediate attention. A delay in evaluation and treatment by medical personnel can cause further damage to the extremity and possible loss of sensation and use.

In the event of a broken bone, call 911 or transport the injured person to the nearest hospital. The advantage of calling 911 and requesting an ambulance is the extremity will be "immobilized" during the trip to the hospital, preventing any further injury to the extremity.


In the event of an accident causing a bleeding wound, otherwise known as an incision or a laceration, the goal is to stop the bleeding. One immediate concern should be your personal safety. Blood and other bodily fluids can carry infectious diseases such as hepatitis or HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. You may be exposed to these diseases and others if any of the injured person's blood is splashed in your eyes, mouth, nose, or any open wounds or cuts you may have. Request a first aid kit from any bystanders that may be present. Many first aid kits contain latex gloves that can be donned before being exposed to blood and other bodily fluids. Some may have eye goggles or shields that you can use to protect your eyes as well.

Your next concern should be to stop the blood lose. If you have sterile gauze from the first aid kit, then use it. Place a clean towel or shirt on the bleeding site and press down to stop the bleeding. With a major blood loss, such as from an artery or vein, you may have to press very hard for an extended period of time.

If possible, if the bleeding is from an extremity, then lift the arm or leg above the level of the heart. This lowers the blood pressure going to the injured site making it easier for the bleeding to stop.

If the bleeding still will not stop with holding pressure to the site and elevating the injured extremity, then try a pressure point. If the bleeding is on the arm, hand, or wrist, put pressure on the inside of that arm between the elbow and the shoulder. This limits blood flow through the brachial artery helping to stop the bleeding. If the bleeding is from the foot, ankle or leg, with the injured person's permission, put pressure on the inside of the thigh on the injured leg. This limits blood flow on the femoral vein, helping the site to stop bleeding.

If you cannot get the bleeding to stop after a few moments, then call 911 or transport the patient to the hospital. The advantage of calling 911 and requesting an ambulance is the EMT's that respond have sterile gauze and wrap that can dress the site and protect it from infection. Paramedics can also start IVs and give fluid to the injured person to help the body replace the blood it has lost.


Electrocutions are dangerous situations. 911 should be called immediately to request fire and ambulance service. The 911 center or fire department should request the electric company to respond as well, especially if there is a downed power line in the area.

The primary concern during an electrocution is the safety of all persons at the scene. If the victim of the electrocution is still in contact with the electricity source, such as from a downed power line or electrical wire, then do not be tempted to touch them or the wire directly. Doing so will cause you to be part of the electrical circuit and you will be a victim as well.

If the victim is still touching the electricity, then the goal should be to disconnect the electrical source. If it is an electrical source inside a house, try flipping the master electricity disconnect at the outside power source breaker box. This will disconnect electricity from the entire house, hopefully rendering the dangerous power line harmless. Then, you may begin to administer first aid to the victim. If the electricity is from a downed power line, then only the electric company can disconnect the power going to the line. For your own safety, not touch the victim until you are certain power has been disconnected.

Severe electrocutions can cause different level of burns to the skin and underlying tissues, primarily at the point where electricity entered the body, or where the contact with the electrical source was made. This should be dressed with sterile gauze or wrap from a first aid kit or a clean cloth if there is no other sterile gauze available.

More severe electrocutions can cause cardiac arrhythmias, where the heart beats in an irregular manner, in some cases not producing an adequate pulse. If the victim has been safely disconnected from the electrical supply and is not breathing, then give rescue ventilations. If there is no pulse, begin CPR.

Remember: Be careful to not become a victim yourself.


Falls can range from an older person who has fallen while walking in their residence or a worker falling from an elevated platform. The primary concern after a fall is to prevent further injury, especially to the neck or back, by limiting any movement until EMS arrives. Keep the victim still and in generally the same position they came to rest after the fall occurred. If they are not breathing or do not have a pulse, tell the ambulance service dispatcher and await instructions from them.

Do not be tempted to place a pillow or blanket behind the victims head for comfort. This will move the victim's neck and if there is an injury to the victim's neck, could cause immediate paralysis or even death.

Do not straighten their legs or move their arms. If the victim wishes to move, sit up, or stand, do not physically restrain them from doing so. However, warn them that since they have fallen, they may have broken a bone in their neck or back and by moving they are risking damage to their spinal cord, which may cause paralysis or death. Recommend to them that they stay still until EMS arrives. EMS will place a cervical collar around their neck to minimize neck movement.

EMS personnel are trained to move and package victims of falls. They will most likely carefully place the victim on a "long spine board" which is a long flat stiff surface that will help minimize movement along the back by securing the legs, hips, and shoulders to the board. The head will also be secured to the top of the long spine board. Using this, the victim's movements are greatly reduced en route to the hospital. At the hospital, the emergency room physician will evaluate the patient and most likely recommend x-rays to confirm or rule out damage to the neck or back. Until damage has been ruled out by a physician, the victim must stay on the long-spine board with the cervical collar in place for his or her own safety.

Roadside Safety

One safety tip for planning in advance for any roadside emergency is to acquire one or more ANSI Class 2 or Class 3 reflective vests for your vehicle. In the event of a roadside emergency, such as a flat tire or a vehicle accident, wearing a reflective vest can help other drivers see you in both daylight and nighttime conditions. Be sure they are labeled ANSI Class 2 or Class 3 on the tag. They are available at many discount and automotive stores.

Car Wrecks / MVAs

Car wrecks and other motor vehicle accidents can be challenging situation for an untrained layperson to mitigate. If you are simply a witness a car wreck, your first priority as always is your own personal safety. If you are still driving, return your focus to the road and pull over to safe area and call 911 to report the wreck. You should stay on the scene (if safe) and report to the law enforcement officers what you saw as a witness. Great consideration for your own safety should be given before exiting your vehicle. If you choose to assist the victims of the wreck, then try to do so without crossing a lane of travel. If you have a reflective safety vest in your vehicle, now is the time to use it. If it is dark, especially if you have on dark clothing, then drivers of other vehicles may not see you and you will become a victim yourself.

Television and news media occasionally report of a victim of a car wreck that has been pulled from their vehicle by bystanders just before it catches fire. Occasionally this does happen, but most car wrecks impact areas other than the engine or fuel compartment and may present hazards completely unrelated to fire. If the air bag has opened (or deployed), then you may see a white powder in the area of the passenger compartment just after the impact. This is a normal byproduct of the air bag deployment process. If you see a faint white wisp of steam coming from under the hood, then this may be steam escaping from a damaged radiator. However, if you see thicker brown smoke pouring from the engine area or from under the dash, then you should consider the vehicle may be beginning to catch fire. Consideration for your own safety should be your highest priority.

Just as a victim of a fall is a risk for a neck or back injury, so is a victim of a car wreck. Even persons who were traveling at a low rate of speed in a neighborhood area are at risk for neck or back injury. This means that one or more of the bones surrounding and protecting the spinal cord may have become broken or out of place, perhaps placing a bone or bone fragment dangerously close to the spinal cord. Moving a victim of a car wreck without properly immobilizing the neck and back may cause the spinal cord to be pierced or cut by one of these bone fragments, causing numbness or paralysis or even sudden death! Only Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics are trained and equipped in properly moving such a victim. Therefore, unless you feel that fire or other danger is imminent, then you should NOT move the victim.

If the victim is awake, then you should encourage him or her to stay still and to not move in case they have a neck or back injury as described above. However, do not physically restrain a victim.

Head Injuries

In some instances, when a person is a victim of trauma, such as from a fall, assault, or car wreck, they may experience head trauma. A head injury refers to person who has had an impact to their head as a result of such trauma. Many times the signs and symptoms of a head injury to not immediately appear, but rather develop over a period of several minutes, hours, or even days.

One of the first and principle signs of a head injury can be a change in the victim's level of consciousness. This means they may lose consciousness or become unusually or inappropriately sleepy or lethargic. This could also mean they start talking without meaning or answering questions inappropriately with obviously wrong answers. Some of the questions EMTs ask such a victim are if they can say their name; tell where they are at the time and the current date. If a person cannot answer these questions readily and correctly, and they have been a victim of head trauma, then consideration is given to further assessment for a head injury.

If you are concerned for someone who has suffered some impact to their head from a fall, car wreck, or assault or any other mechanism of injury and they show any such change in their level of consciousness, then you should call 911 or take them to a hospital immediately. The advantage of calling 911 and requesting an ambulance is that EMTs and Paramedics can begin assessment and care, such as administering oxygen and starting IVs on the way to the hospital.

Impaled Object

An impaled object refers to any foreign body that is stuck in the victim, such as a nail through a carpenter's thumb or a weapon in an assault victim's chest. Generally, it is considered best to allow the impaled object to stay in the position it is in due to the fact than any major blood vessels that it may have damaged by the object on the way in may still be partially sealed by the impaled object, and removing it may open them up causing major bleeding. The only instance where an EMT will remove an impaled object is when it is blocking a patient's airway. In any situation of an impaled object, you should call 911 or take the victim to the hospital. The advantage to calling 911 and requesting an ambulance is that the EMTs can stabilize the impaled object to help prevent further injury and start IVs to help maintain a proper blood pressure.

Note: These tips are provided for the convenience to our site visitors for entertainment and research purposes and only represent general guidelines to helping victims of illness and accidents. These guidelines do not take into account any unique situations you may face if you or someone you know is a victim and needs first aid. These guidelines are no substitute for calling 911 and requesting an ambulance. Call 911 and/or your personal physician in the event of an accident or sudden illness. Follow the instructions given by the ambulance service dispatcher or doctor's office.