Real-life first aid stories, where ordinary items saved the day


Last updated 15 July 2021

Did you know that you can give first aid using everyday items? Read these real-life first aid stories, and learn how objects around you could help in a first aid emergency.

Debbie's story

First aid scenario: heavy bleeding
Items used: towels

One day, Debbie’s* doorbell rang out of the blue. It was 16-year-old Amy from next door: “help, my brother Dylan is bleeding” she shouted.

Debbie and her sister Ellen ran to their house to find 8-year-old Dylan bleeding heavily from a huge cut in his arm.

Amy had been looking after Dylan while their mum had popped out to the shops. Dylan had fallen while running through the house, accidentally thrusting his arm through a glass door panel.

Debbie had recently taken a first aid course and knew what to do. “I knew I needed to apply pressure to stop the bleeding. I grabbed a towel from the bathroom and used it to press on the wound” she said.

Dylan was crying and shaken so Debbie spoke soothingly to him while pressing on the towel to stop the blood flow. She told Ellen to call for an ambulance since she knew the cut would need medical treatment. Amy was so upset by the sight of Dylan’s blood that she had to go and wait in another room.

Just as the ambulance pulled up, Dylan’s mum came home. She was deeply shocked but immediately cuddled Dylan and held his arm, then the two of them travelled to the hospital together in the ambulance.

After a few weeks, the wound had healed and Dylan was showing off the scar on his arm to local children.

Dylan’s mother thanked Debbie and Ellen the day after the incident. “I’m so happy that I learned first aid,” Debbie said. “I never thought I’d need to use my first aid skills so soon, but I’m very glad I knew what to do.  I didn’t need a first aid kit.  The towel that was to hand did a great job in stopping the blood flow”


Diana's story

First aid scenario: seizure
Item used: Jacket

Diana was out shopping in a busy department store after work one evening. Just five minutes before closing time, she heard a staff member saying, “someone’s having a seizure”. 

Walking quickly towards the staff member, Diana saw a fellow shopper on the ground. She had fallen and was lying on the floor, jerking uncontrollably. A small group of people had gathered to help the woman and a staff member called an ambulance. The store’s first aider soon joined them. 

Diana knew that she could use what she had learned on her first aid course to help as well. 

The seizure was very different to the way people usually move,” Diana said. “The woman’s movements were so powerful that her glasses flew off her face and a hearing aid fell out of her ear".

Knowing it was important to keep the woman safe, one of the employees brought over a staff jacket and they put it under the woman’s head so she wouldn’t injure herself. 

"The seizure probably lasted only a few minutes, but it seemed much longer while it was going on," Diana said. "When the jerking stopped, a man helped turn the woman on to her side. I then tilted her head back to help her keep breathing. 

“After the seizure, the woman seemed not to be able to understand what we were saying and couldn’t speak. Luckily, I had learned that this can happen after a seizure and it may take some time for people to get back to feeling like their normal selves. 

“It was such a relief when she very tentatively answered that she was OK.

“By this time, the ambulance was on its way, the store had closed for the night and the other shoppers who had helped at first had left. 

“We all agreed that the woman was in safe hands with the first aider and a nurse who had also stopped to help, so I started to make my way out of the store. 

“As I was leaving, one of the store’s employees said, ‘thank you for your kindness’.

“I was very touched by her words, and I told her that I’d learned first aid in case something like this ever happened, and now it had. Even though the incident left me feeling very shaken, I was glad I knew what to do to help.”



Vicki's story

First aid scenario: heavy bleeding

Item used: nappy

Vicki was driving when she came across someone who had been injured in a road accident.

"I was driving and came across an accident where a very pregnant lady had spun her car upside down.

"I stopped to help but wasn’t the first one on the scene.

"She had a cut on her arm and hand which was bleeding quite a lot and the people helping her were scrabbling for something to put pressure on the wound."

Vicki was resourceful and found something suitable to put pressure on the wound.

"I went to find something suitable in my boot and thought a clean nappy was probably the cleanest and most hygienic thing I had to hand.

"I handed them over and it worked perfectly!"

Learn first aid

You never know when you might need to help someone who becomes ill or injured. The good news is that first aid is easy to learn and simple to do.

Learn your way:

*Names changed