Respiratory Emergencies

Participants attending standard first aid courses will learn to recognize and care for respiratory emergencies such as asthma, hyperventilation, and anaphylaxis. Candidates will learn to provide care and treatment to support breathing and encourage patients into normal breathing patterns. It is important for candidates to understand to contact EMS immediately if a patient’s condition continues to deteriorate or if a patient is unconscious. To successfully complete standard first aid training candidates must complete the requirements posted on this page when tending to victims of respiratory emergencies. The material posted here is for information purposes only. To learn to recognize and treat respiratory emergencies rescuers need hands-on training through a credible provider.

When treating victims of respiratory emergencies rescuers are required to:

  • Assess the scene for any dangers or hazards.
  • Determine the history of the patient and the cause of the emergency. Candidates will have to use a primary or secondary survey.
  • If the environment is causing a respiratory emergency to remove the victim from the environment.
  • Assess the patient’s level of consciousness.
  • Activate Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and obtain an AED.
  • Place the patient into a semi-sitting position or a position of comfort.
  • Reassure the victim and treat the patient for shock.
  • Maintain an open airway.

Patients with Asthma need the following additional aid:

  • The rescuer should assist the patient with medication/inhaler if available.
  • Unlike other respiratory emergencies, patients having an asthma attack have difficulty exhaling.

Patients with Hyperventilation need the following additional aid:

  • Rescuers should encourage patients to do pursed-lip breathing, however, some patients will have their own method of “relaxed breathing” techniques.
  • Patients with Anaphylaxis need the following additional aid:
  • Rescuers need to determine the need for medication.
  • Patients can carry epinephrine medication such as “Epi-pen” or “Twin-jet”.
  • The rescuer can assist the patient with taking medication.
  • Do not ice the injection site.
  • Dispose of needle safely.
  • The rescuer can massage the injection site.

To successfully complete standard first aid training participants need to be able to recognize and treat victims of respiratory emergencies. Candidates need to demonstrate and know the skills posted above. For more information on how to treat victims of respiratory emergencies such as asthma, anaphylaxis, and hyperventilation take a standard first aid course through a credible provider.