First Aid Techniques for Disaster Assistance

1. This paper gives techniques that volunteers can use to help in disasters that overwhelm the existing emergency resources.

2. Purpose is to do the most good you can for the greatest number of victims.

Three reasons for death:
A. Death within minutes due to vital organ damage
B. Death within hours due excessive bleeding
C. Death within several days or weeks due to infection, lack of needed food and water.
In a large scale disaster, rescuers must focus on victims of "B" and "C". There is usually nothing that can be done or available to help victims of "A".

3. Learn to recognize and treat life-threatening conditions. Learn the ABC:
A. Airway - is the victim breathing?

  • Ask victim, "Can you hear me?"
  • If no response, place hand on forehead, with 2 fingers under chin, tilt jaw upward, and head back.
  • Look for chest rise
  • Listen for air exchange
  • Feel for abdominal movement
    B. Bleeding - Control bleeding
  • 1 liter of blood lose poses risk of death.
  • Apply direct pressure on wound.
  • Elevate wound above level of heart.
  • Put pressure on nearest pressure point to slow blood to the wound.
  • Tourniquet should not be used, or only if planning on loosing the limb.
    C. Circulation - Treat for shock
  • Symptoms:
    Rapid or Shallow Breathing
    Cold or Pale Skin
    Failure to respond to simple commands (squeeze my finger)

    Lay victim on back
    Elevate feet 6-10 inches
    Maintain body temperature
    Do not give victim any water or food

    4. Triage sort victims according to severity.
    A. Immediate Life Threatening (airway, bleeding, shock)
    B. Delayed May need professional car, but not immediate
    C. Dead - When have time, remove to a separate location and cover

    5. Disaster Medical Treatment

  • Additional Triage as needed
  • Thorough head-to-toe assessment of extent of injuries
  • Render first aid until professional help can be obtained

    1. Head, Neck, Spinal

  • All unconscious patients should be considered for head/spinal injury
  • Unconscious, dizzy
  • Unable to move a body part
  • Pain, pressure in head or neck
  • Tingling, numbness
  • Difficulty breathing or seeing
  • Bleeding, bruising, deformity
  • Blood/fluid in nose/ ears
  • Bruising behind ears
  • Seizures
  • Nausea

    Stabilize head and back
    Goal Do no more harm

    2. Burns

  • Stop the burning, remove source of burning if possible
  • Cool burned area
  • Cover to reduce pain and infection
  • 3rd Degree Do NOT apply water
  • Treat for shock
  • Elevate
  • DO NOT apply ice
  • DO NOT apply antiseptics, ointments or remedies
  • DO NOT break blisters, remove tissue or clothing in the burned area

    Wound Care
    Purpose control bleeding and prevent infection

  • Clean wound
  • Bandage Place sterile dressing over wound, apply bandage to hold it in place
  • If bleeding continues, do not remove dressing. Redress over existing dressing and maintain pressure.
  • If foreign object is stuck in a wound DO NOT remove object, dress around it.

    Fractures, Sprains, Strains
    Purpose Immobilize the injury and the joints immediately above and below the injury

  • Closed Fracture may need only splinting
  • Open Fracture
    a. DO NOT put exposed bone back into tissue.
    b. Cover exposed bone with sterile 4x4 gauze to keep from drying out.
    c. DO NOT irrigate wound
    d. Splint fracture
    e. DO NOT try to relocate a dislocation only immobilize


  • Body temperature less than 95 degrees
  • Redness, blueness, bluish-white of skin stiffness or hardness of skin
  • Numbness, shivering, slurred speech


  • Remove wet clothing, wrap victim in a blanket, covering neck and head.
  • Protect from weather.
  • If conscious, offer warm sweet drinks and food. DO NOT offer alcohol or massage.
  • If possible place the conscious victim in warm bath. DO NOT warm too quickly.