First Aid

Recognizing that an Emergency Exists


It will sometimes be obvious that an emergency exists. For example, a scream or cry for help, an unpleasant or unusual odor, or the sight of someone bleeding severely or lying motionless on the ground are all clear indications that immediate action is needed. But other times, the signs of an emergency may be more subtle, such as a slight change in a person’s normal appearance or behavior, or an unusual silence.

Willingness to Act

Sometimes people don’t want to get involved in an emergency. The four most common reasons are

1. The Bystander Effect: If there are other people at the scene, it is easy to think that they can take care of the emergency without your help. However, you should never assume that someone has taken action and is providing first aid just because you see a lot of people. Remember that there are many important jobs that you can do. You can help control the crowd, direct the actions of bystanders, call Rescue, get supplies, or provide care to the ill or injured person. If you are unsure of what to do, ask others at the scene how you can help.

2. Unpleasant injuries or illnesses: Some people may feel faint, upset, or nauseated when they see blood, vomit, or visible injuries. If this happens to you, close your eyes or turn away for a moment and take a few deep breaths to calm yourself before you deal with the situation. If you are still unable to give care, you can volunteer to help in other ways, such as by calling Rescue and bringing the necessary equipment and supplies to the scene.

3. Catching a disease: You might be concerned that performing first aid will put you at risk of infection, but there are many ways to reduce this risk. If you take simple precautions to limit contact with the ill or injured person—such as wearing gloves and using a CPR breathing barrier—you can limit the possibility of catching a disease. Remember that Rescue Services provide care for ill and injured people every day without incident.

4. Doing something wrong, or causing more harm: You might be afraid that you will be sued if you make a mistake. As long as you act reasonably, you don’t need to worry. All provinces and territories have laws to protect bystanders who give emergency help. Getting trained in first aid can give you the confidence, knowledge, and skills you need to respond appropriately to an emergency. Use your good judgment and stay within the realm of the skills in which you were trained. Once you start giving first aid, keep providing help until EMS personnel arrive. If you are unsure of what to do, call Rescue and follow the Rescue dispatcher’s instructions. The most harmful thing you can do is to do nothing at all. Thinking about these things now and mentally preparing yourself for an emergency will help you overcome your fears.


The divine scriptures are God’s beacons to the world. Surely God offered His trust to the heavens and the earth, and the hills, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it. And man undertook it.
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