First Aid Hurry Cases

Published 17 February, 2020

Know how to act when time isn't on your side. Understand severe bleeding, stopped breathing, internal poisoning, and stroke treatment

Written by The Preparedness Team

Knowing how to identify and effectively treat the four major hurry cases is extremely important. While we will not exhaust every technique here, we will help identify the major components in treating each hurry case, and what specific items could prove very useful in doing so.

Four Major Hurry Cases

Stopped breathing, severe bleeding, internal poisoning, and a stroke. They are called hurry cases because first aid needs to be administered quickly and effectively to ensure survival for the victim.

We hope you are familiar with the fundamentals of first aid. If you aren’t, we suggest you become familiar. We want to make sure that as a care-giver you understand that you need to look out for your own well-being throughout the first aid process as well. Let’s get into each hurry case and break down identification and treatment, then give you some treatment options for each.

Severe Bleeding.

Gushing blood. Rapid blood loss. Spurting. Arterial bleeding. Not trying to gross you out, but severe bleeding is serious and happens rapidly. Blood can quickly exit the body and the victim can quickly fall into a state of shock and potentially die because of rapid blood loss.

If you see someone gushing blood in intervals, that is a clear sign that a major artery is broken and exposed. If they are quickly pooling blood they are probably gushing it as well, but the artery might not be exposed causing you to not see any kind of blood stream coming out.

The absolute first thing you need to do is apply direct pressure and get help. You must apply pressure to the portion of the artery that is closer to the heart than the injury site. Apply as much pressure as possible. This could mean using your knee or shin to “sit” on the wound while you are coordinating quicklot gauze, a pressure bandage or, a tourniquet. You need to maintain pressure on the wound during the entirety of your treatment. Blood needs to be relatively still and exposed to air to start to clot.

Just like in the fundamentals of first aid, you need to constantly be communicating with those around you. You should have your supplies handy and accessible that you could direct another person to get for you. Keep pressure on the wound and start getting some quikclot gauze in there if you have any. If you think that pressure just above the wound site towards the heart, quikclot gauze, and a pressure bandage aren’t stopping the blood flow effectively, start having someone else get a tourniquet ready and preliminarily tightened. You don’t have to fully crank it down yet, but put yourself in the position to simply have to apply a few twists to a tourniquet to stop more blood flow as opposed to having to put it around the limb, then tighten it, then twist. Remember this is a hurry case so you must act quickly!

You need to seek professional medical attention as quickly as possible. If the victim is conscious, you can even direct them to call 911 while you are applying direct pressure. If it is just you, you need to get creative about how you can get help. But you will need help and you will need it quickly. Remember, you are giving first aid. The victim will require more medical attention, and you need to get them there as quickly as possible. Use the personnel around you to get that done.

Simply put – blood flow stops with pressure. If blood is flowing too rapidly to stop with direct pressure, and all other methods have failed, cut off blood flow entirely with a tourniquet. This is a last resort considering the victim could lose that lower portion of the limb as a result, but a tourniquet could be the necessary step to save their life. Prepare yourself by having the right equipment available to you to stop severe hemorrhaging.

Stopped Breathing

If you are treating someone for stopped breathing, chances are they are unconscious. As always, you need to first assess the situation. See if the scene is safe for you to administer first aid and check the victim quickly to see what is causing them not to breathe.

Next, be sure to look, listen, and feel. This involves looking in their mouth to quickly check for obstructions. Then put your ear close to their mouth and look at their chest to see if it is rising. You are listening for breathing and are trying to feel exhaled air on your ear as well. You should be able to quickly determine the state of the victim within a few seconds.

If you are now convinced that the victim isn’t breathing, you need to immediately start chest compressions. The Red Cross has recently changed their guidelines on rescue breathing indicating that chest compressions should be done first, unless it can be identified that the victim has had secondary cardiac arrest. Chest compressions allow blood to continue to circulate to the brain and are as effective for the first few minutes as traditional rescue breathing, provided the victim underwent sudden cardiac arrest. More information on this here.

Compressions should be done to the beat of “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees. You will need someone else to take over doing chest compressions after a few minutes. They are exhausting and getting assistance doing chest compressions is crucial.

During this whole time, you should be communicating to get help with treating the victim. Someone else should be calling 911, and you should be solely focused on administering first aid and directing others.

Internal Poisoning

Poisoning can become fatal very quickly. Some poisoning symptoms include symptoms for indigestion such as upset stomach, headache, and nausea. In addition, victims might even have a fever, or become unconscious.

Most commonly, victims might ingest too much of an over the counter drug or ingest something they are allergic to. Firstly, their stomach is probably going to be very upset. Encourage the victim to throw up. Have them drink a lot of water very quickly, wash their hands, and put two fingers down the back of their throat. The goal is to get whatever is in their system out of there.

Secondly, while they are still conscious and able to talk, communicate with them and ask them what they just ate or what happened. This will help you narrow down the range of possibilities and in the case of someone actually ingesting poison, it will help you treat them and could save their life.

If someone is really not looking good and has told you that they could have eaten some chemical or other poisonous substance, you need to call 911 right away. Don’t hesitate one minute. Get the authorities to your location or get the victim to a hospital and tell them what the victim ingested and what has happened.


A stroke is a blood clot in the brain. Hands down it is one of the scarier things that can happen to someone. You need to first be able to identify when someone is having a stroke. Use the acronym FAST.

F- Face. The victim’s face is going to look different. Part of their face might be droopy. They might be talking and only certain parts of their face are moving. It might look weird when they are trying to smile. These are all signs that something is wrong.

A- Arms. Once you have noticed that something isn’t quite right, ask them to raise their arms above their head. If they cannot raise them to the same height, one arm starts to drift downward when both are raised, or they have trouble raising a single arm, it could mean they are having a stroke.

S- Speech. Ask them to talk and make a sentence. Ideally, they are already talking to you. This could be the first indicator that you received. If they are not making much sense, or have trouble speaking, this could be an indicator of stroke.

T- Time. Time to get help and call 911

Additionally, stroke victims might have trouble with balance and coordination. They might also start complaining about seeing double vision or not being able to see out of one eye.

We hope these methods of identification and treatment have helped you become more confident in treating hurry cases. Check us out on Facebook and let us know what you think. Leave us a comment there about an article you would like to see!