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Sad, but unfortunately true: in an emergency situation, the majority of the German population does not dare to carry out first aid measures – and has done so for years. The reason for this is in most cases the fear of doing something wrong while helping, of worsening the situation, or even of being held responsible for any mistakes.

Corona has exacerbated the situation, because in many places no first aid courses could be offered due to the contact restrictions. In addition, there is the fear of contracting Corona as a first aid worker.

With some myths and prejudices, Dr. Michael Dinkel, chief physician at the Clinic for Anesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine on the Bad Neustadt campus, tidy up: “Nobody needs to be afraid of making mistakes. The only really serious mistake is not to do anything. “

It is important to know that first aiders only have to bridge the usually short period of time between their arrival at the scene of the accident and the arrival of the emergency doctor. In Germany, statistically speaking, this is only eight to twelve minutes. “If it is used with commitment, it can save lives in many cases,” says Dr. Spelt.

What many people are not aware of: the likelihood that in an emergency it is a close relative rather than a complete stranger is much greater.

Therefore, it makes sense to know previous illnesses (e.g. diabetes, epilepsy, cardiovascular problems) in the family and among friends and to prepare yourself mentally for a possible emergency in advance.

“Forget all the studies and resuscitation guides you’ve ever heard. Rather, remember the motto: CHECK-CALL-PRESS!“- that’s how Dr. Spelled to the point.

That means: “Check” whether the person opposite is approachable, “call” medical help (so call the emergency number 112) – and then: “Press” in the sense of a cardiac massage, approx. 100 times per minute.
In case of doubt, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation can be dispensed with, because in the short term it is more about the fact that the oxygen still present in the blood has to circulate. Because, not least in times of the Corona, fear of infection scares off many first aiders. “Leave that clear conscience to the professionals,” reassured Dr. Spelt.
For some common emergency situations, he gives tips on how to behave as a first aider.

Sudden cardiac arrest

If you suspect sudden cardiac arrest, you need to act quickly. Usually the affected person is unconscious and no longer breathing. Effective chest compressions should now take place within five minutes. Only then is it possible to survive without brain damage.
Here you should definitely keep the guiding principle in mind: CHECK – CALL – PRESS!

Epileptical attack

An epileptic seizure can initially irritate people who witness it. Here too, courageous intervention is as simple as it is effective. Experts like Dr. Spelled generally advise you to stay calm here too. “That may be difficult, but it is extremely effective and relaxes the overall situation,” he says. It is also important not to leave the person who is having the seizure alone: ​​“Protect them from injury and move dangerous objects out of the way, but never hold them or try a bite block or something similar between their teeth of the person concerned. This harbors a very high risk of injury, since people can develop enormous strength during a seizure! ”Advises Dr. Spelt.
Important to know: As a rule, such “thunderstorms in the head” only last a few seconds or minutes.


Strokes, i.e. sudden circulatory disorders in the brain, are much more serious. You express yourself z. B. in paralysis or speech disorders. The following applies to everyone who wants to help: “Time is Brain”, which means: The faster a patient with a stroke is treated, the greater the probability that no permanent disabilities or impairments will occur, because many can experience an undersupply within a very short time Brain cells die off.
Therefore, in this case: get medical help as soon as possible, preferably via the emergency number 112.
The first aider should use the time until the emergency doctor arrives to calm the patient down. If the patient is still conscious, the upper body should be raised. In the event of unconsciousness, however, if the patient is still breathing, experts such as Dr. Spelled a simple stable side position.

Foreign body aspiration

Grabbing first aid is also required when people, especially children, have swallowed foreign objects. Here, too, Dr. Spelled to initially calm those affected and prevent panic. In addition, you should ask the person concerned to continue coughing and then remove any foreign body that may have been choked up from the mouth. Babies and toddlers can be placed head-low over the knee and pounded between the shoulder blades. If this does not work, the so-called Heimlich grip can be used. The emergency doctor must be alerted as soon as possible.


In the case of minor first-degree burns, cooling the affected area with running lukewarm (never ice-cold!) Water helps. This can help limit the damage and relieve pain. If, on the other hand, the burn is more severe or affects more than 20 percent of the body surface, Dr. Spelled off the cooling. Then an emergency doctor should be called for help. Under no circumstances should so-called “home remedies” such as ointments, baking powder or disinfectants be used in the event of burns. These could make the injury worse.

Dr. Dinkel wants to relieve potential first aiders of the fear of doing something wrong:

“As far as liability is concerned, a so-called liability privilege applies to all those emergency helpers who take first aid measures in random situations. This means that the helping person is exempt from liability, except in the case of willful or grossly negligent misconduct. Failure to provide assistance, on the other hand, is clearly a criminal offense. “

Basically, the expert advises all people to deal regularly with the topic of first aid and to attend a course. “It not only ensures that you know exactly what to do in an emergency, but it also gives you a good feeling when you can assume that you can react quickly and correctly in the event of an emergency. It is important to start with the youngest and to establish the topic of “first aid” in schools.

In addition, the now numerous smartphone apps such as those from the Red Cross or the Maltese can be very helpful. These “first aid” apps offer interactive support in an emergency situation and help in a playful way to practice correct behavior in borderline situations.

Competently compiled information on the subject of saving lives can also be found on the website “Save a life” of the German Society for Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine.

Your expert for questions about first aid
Priv.-Doz. Dr. med. Michael Dinkel MBA
Head of the Clinic for Anesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine

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