Myths are generally stories that are passed onto people over time, and in many cases not updated. Here in reverse order are our top five first aid myths debunked. Each one has a simple explanation for all to follow:

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5) I must check for a pulse when looking for signs of breathing

Research has found that both first aiders and healthcare professionals struggle to find a pulse by touch alone. In fact the time that is lost doing so could prove the difference between life and death for the casualty.

It is therefore preferable to spend 10 seconds looking at the chest, feeling for breaths against your own cheek and listening for the sounds of breathing.

4) I need a training course to use an automated external defibrillator (AED)

Studies have shown that people are more confident to use an AED when they have received some basic training. However you could be stood next to an AED machine when someone suffers a cardiac arrest right in front of you.

Despite having no training you can follow the diagrams & voice prompts on the machine, and save that person's life!

Remember - The manufacturers of AEDs design them for people who have not received any training

3) Shake an infant / child upside down when choking

The two proven methods of clearing a foreign obstruction are back blows between the shoulder blades and abdominal / chest thrusts (or a combination of the two).

Shaking an infant or small child upside down when choking is not proven to dislodge the object. It is also dangerous to do so and could cause further harm.

2) I can't give mouth to mouth resuscitation so I can't start CPR

It is important to remember that no person should feel they have to give mouth to mouth resuscitation on a casualty that is not breathing.

In these situations you can still help by delivering compression only CPR. This involves pushing hard on the casualty’s chest at a rate of between 100-120 compressions per minute. Keep going until the emergency services arrive.

Helpful hint - Consider carrying a CPR face shield in your bag or even on a key ring

1) I will be sued if I give first aid treatment

The number one first aid myth is that if you give first aid treatment, then at some point in the future the casualty will come back to get you financially or even imprison you through the courts.

In fact you are protected by hidden laws stating that by sticking to the guidelines of the training you are deemed ‘trying to help’. Without that help the casualty has no chance of surviving anyway. This applies to making mistakes as well, but you should never step outside of your training.