Real-life first aid stories, where ordinary items saved the day
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.
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”
First aid scenario: burn
Item used: jugs of cold water and a jug of juice
Shirley* was enjoying an afternoon in the cafe of a local leisure centre with her family when her grandson hurt himself.
"My little grandson Ollie, who was seven months old at the time, was sat on his dad" she explained.
"Before anyone could stop him, Ollie lunged forward and knocked a hot cup of coffee over himself, spilling it all over his legs."
Fortunately, she knew what to do, having completed a baby and child first aid course with the Red Cross three weeks before.
"I grabbed Ollie from his dad's arms and hurried to the ladies' toilets looking for cold water.
"The cold tap in the toilet wasn't working, so I ran into the kitchen and set him on the counter.
"There was a jug of water on the side so I quickly grabbed it and poured it over him where the coffee had landed. I knew that I needed to keep cooling the burn for at least ten minutes.
"After I had used the jug of water the next available cold liquid to hand was a jug of diluted juice. From my first aid course I knew that as long as the liquid was safe to drink, it would be safe to cool a burn. So I used the jug of juice to cool the burnt area."
The kitchen staff then helped by bringing more jugs of cold water for Shirley to pour over Ollie's burn.
There was only redness on top of his leg and the skin hadn't broken but they decided to take him to A&E to be sure. Ollie was going to be fine.
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:
- Learn adult first aid online
- Learn baby and child first aid online
- Download our First Aid app
- Book a first aid course