FAQ Level 3 Award for First Responders on Scene: Emergency First Responder (RQF) FROS® - Online Blended Part 1

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Respiration and Breathing

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3 min 8 sec
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Recognizing Breathing Difficulties in First Aid

Normal Breathing Signs

  • Rising and Falling Chest: Look for the chest's symmetrical rise and fall on both sides.
  • Sign of Comfort: The patient should display no signs of distress.
  • Steady Breath: Breathing should be quiet, regular, and consistent.

Signs of Breathing Difficulty

When someone experiences difficulty breathing, there are key indicators to observe:

  • Distress: They may appear distressed and anxious.
  • Conscious Effort: The individual might consciously think about their breathing, which is unusual.
  • Rapid Respiration: Their respiratory rate and effort will increase significantly.
  • Asthma Symptoms: In cases of asthma, they may wheeze or describe tightness in the chest.
  • Symmetrical Chest Movement: Even when experiencing difficulty, their chest should still rise and fall equally on both sides.

First Aid for Asthma

When assisting an asthma patient:

  • Comfortable Position: Allow them to sit in a position they find most comfortable; they often prefer sitting down with hunched shoulders.
  • Respect Their Choice: Let the patient decide the position that suits them best.

Recognizing Serious Conditions

Some serious conditions affecting breathing include:

  • Pneumothorax: In this condition, one lung isn't functioning correctly.
  • Severe Distress: Patients with pneumothorax will be incredibly distressed, express an inability to breathe, and seek help.
  • Asymmetrical Chest Movement: With pneumothorax, only one side of the chest will visibly move; the affected side won't.