First Aid Barriers to Action: Don't Let Inaction Lead To Someone's Death

Sometimes in an emergency people are reluctant to act, for various reasons. These reasons are called barriers to action. The five common reasons people give for not acting are described below.

Presence of Other People

The presence of other people can cause confusion at an emergency scene. Do not assume that, just because there is a crowd, someone is giving first aid. Do not feel embarrassed in front of strangers. Even if someone else is already giving care, offer your help. You can help keep the crowd back, send someone to call for an ambulance, retrieve blankets or other supplies, or help comfort the casualty and others at the scene.

Uncertainty About the Casualty

The person needing your first aid may be a stranger, someone much older or much younger than you, or someone of a different gender or race. Regardless of who the casualty is, put such concerns aside and give first aid. If the person acts offensively because of stress, emotions, or even intoxication, do not take offense. If for some reason you can't give first aid directly, you can still help by calling EMS and assisting in crowd management.

Nature of the Injury or Illness

An injury or illness can be very unpleasant because of blood, vomit, unpleasant odors, or torn or burned skin. If necessary, turn away for a moment and take a few deep breaths. Then do your best. Remember the situation is an emergency. Your help can save a life. Try to do for the casualty what you would want someone to do for you.

Fear of Disease Transmission

Some people hesitate to act because they fear they may catch some disease from the casualty. This risk is actually very small. Although many diseases can be passed from one person to another, you can greatly reduce the risk by taking precautions when giving first aid.

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