Need help earning your First Aid merit badge and understanding the most important safety skills in Scouting? If so, I’ve got your back! In this part of my helpful First Aid merit badge guide, get ready to learn about specific first aid procedures, moving an injured person, and how to teach first aid skills of your own!
You’ve reached part 3 of my ultimate guide to the First Aid merit badge! If you’re new to ScoutSmarts, you should first check out part 1 (answers to requirements 1-6) and part 2 (answers to requirements 7-12) for more help with earning your First Aid merit badge.
If you’ve just come over from part two, congratulations! You’re almost finished. Once you earn this badge, you’ll be prepared to handle and effectively treat almost any type of injury! Right now, take a moment to feel proud of yourself for how much you’ve already learned and accomplished. 😀
Now, let’s get back into it! Take a minute to closely review and think through requirements 13-16 of the First Aid merit badge. Then, I’ll be helping you to understand the answers to each requirement so that you’ll be ready to earn this ultra-useful Eagle-required badge!
First Aid Merit Badge Workbook Help
- Describe symptoms, proper first-aid procedures, and possible prevention measures for the following conditions:
b. Anaphylaxis/allergic reactions
c. Asthma attack
e. Sprains or strains
h. Burns—first, second, and third degree
k. Muscle cramps
l. Heat exhaustion
m. Heat stroke
n. Abdominal pain
o. Broken, chipped, or loosened tooth
- Do the following:
a. Describe the conditions under which an injured person should be moved.
b. If a sick or an injured person must be moved, tell how you would determine the best method. Demonstrate this method.
c. With helpers under your supervision, improvise a stretcher and move a presumably unconscious person.
- Describe the following:
a. The indications that someone might be a danger to themselves or others.
b. What action you should take if you suspect that someone might be a danger to themselves or others.
- Teach another Scout a first-aid skill selected by your counselor.
Describe symptoms, proper first-aid procedures, and possible prevention measures for the following conditions:
A concussion is a brain injury usually resulting from a hit to the head. In a concussion, the brain is jostled around inside the skull. These injuries can be very serious, and it is vital to recognize and treat them appropriately.
There are many symptoms of concussions. Some of the most common include confusion, headache, and loss of memory. You should always get medical care within a couple days of getting a head injury, but if the injured person has certain symptoms, they should see a medical professional right away.
Helpful Link: Check out the Mayo Clinic’s site for a full list of symptoms and info on when to seek emergency care. This expert-approved article from Healthline has great tips on concussion first aid.
If you think someone has a concussion, keep an eye on their symptoms. Instruct them not to do any vigorous activity, drive, or be alone for 24 hours — they’re still at risk of passing out. They should avoid screen time and try to rest. Don’t give them ibuprofen or aspirin without getting medical advice first!
There are many things to consider when it comes to preventing concussions, but these are a few major tips from the CDC:
- Drive safely and wear your seatbelt
- Wear appropriate headgear—like helmets—when playing sports, riding bikes, using ATVs, etc.
- Use safety gear in the home to help prevent children and older adults from falling
13b) Anaphylaxis/allergic reactions
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that requires immediate treatment. By using epinephrine (an adrenaline shot), the symptoms of anaphylaxis can be reversed. (See requirement 9 for more on emergency treatment with an EpiPen!)
Signs of anaphylactic reaction appear as typical allergy symptoms such as a runny nose or rash. This can also be accompanied by coughing, difficulty breathing, weak pulse, or a sense of doom. Anaphylactic reactions require medical follow-up, even after epinephrine is administered.
13c) Asthma Attack
Asthma is a very common ailment — in fact, about one in 12 people in the United States has it. The most common and recognizable symptom of asthma is difficulty breathing. An asthma attack, an event when symptoms suddenly become severe, can be life-threatening.
Helpful Link: Check out this fantastic article on asthma first aid for even more information!
Most people with asthma carry an inhaler to use during an attack. You may also be able to find an inhaler in some first aid kits. If someone is having trouble breathing and you can’t access an inhaler, or their symptoms don’t improve quickly after using the inhaler, call 911. It’s important to know that just because a person stops wheezing does not mean their condition is improving.
Bruises, or contusions, appear as dark welts on the surface of one’s skin and are caused by damage to underlying blood vessels. A bruise may feel tender in the first few days; however, because the skin is not broken there is no risk of infection.
Bruises are typically caused by a blunt impact to any part of the body. Applying a cold compress to the bruise immediately after damage may reduce swelling and discoloration. A bruise will typically go away on its own after 2 weeks.
13e) Sprains or strains
A strain is an overextension of a muscle or tendon, whereas a sprain is caused by motion that tears the tissues around a joint. Therefore, sprains are worse than strains and may lead to more bruising, swelling, and discoloration. In both cases, a cold compress should be applied to reduce swelling.
To treat strains or sprains, immobilize the injury, apply a cold compress, and stay off of it for a few days. Once the swelling goes down, after 2-4 days, you can apply heat to speed up recovery. However, if after a week the injury is still swollen and giving you problems, consider seeing a doctor.
Hypothermia is caused by one’s core body temperature falling below 95°F. While symptoms of mild hypothermia include shivering and confusion, in more dangerous cases the victim will not have enough energy to continue shivering and may fall unconscious.
If you notice someone is experiencing hypothermia, immediately warm them using extra clothing, fire, or through body heat. Do not suddenly re-warm the victim by placing them in a hot shower though, as this could lead to rewarming shock. Instead, re-warm them gradually.
Frostbite occurs when extremities, such as fingers and toes, begin to freeze. Skin in the affected areas will turn blue, then white. If you notice frostbite setting in, evacuate to a warm area. Try not to wrap the affected area in anything, as this could cause some of the tissue to be killed off.
A better way to warm a frostbitten area is by running it under cool water. Then, slowly, increase the water temperature as the injury defrosts. To avoid frostbite, make sure to keep your fingers, toes, and ears warm and well covered.
13h) Burns—first, second, and third degree
Although heat is the most common type of burn, damage to bodily tissues caused by chemicals, electricity, sunlight, or radiation are also considered types of burns. There are 3 primary categories of burns:
- First Degree: A sunburn would be a type of first-degree burn. The affected area will appear red and sensitive to touch.
- Second Degree: Second degree burns are deeper and more painful than first degree. Alongside redness and inflammation, the skin of a second degree burn would also be blistered.
- Third Degree: Third-degree burns involve all layers of skin. There will be major damage to nerves and blood vessels, causing the skin to appear white and leathery.
For minor burns taking up relatively little space on the body, treatment should be done by cooling the affected area. Apply a wet compress until the pain subsides. Afterward, bandage the burn with sterile gauze, wrapping loosely so as not to put pressure on the injured skin.
For second-degree burns, taking up more than 4 inches of space, or third-degree burns, one should seek emergency medical care. Protect the burned person from further harm, and make sure that they are breathing. Cover the area of the burn with a cool, moist bandage, but never immerse a severe burn in water. Elevate the burned area and watch for signs of shock as you await an emergency medical response.
Convulsions are involuntary muscle spasms that occur as a common symptom of seizures. These can appear as brief blackouts, drooling, loss of bowel control, or sudden shaking of the entire body. The cause of both convulsions and seizures are abnormal electrical activity in the brain. However, the specific triggers are often unclear.
It is important not to hold the victim down or restrain them in any way. Call for emergency medical services and remove anything harmful that the victim, while flailing around, could collide with. Allow for the convulsions to cease naturally, ensuring that the victim does not choke or harm themselves while on the ground.
Dehydration occurs when the body does not consume enough water. Some symptoms of dehydration include a flushed face, lack of sweat, or feeling of weakness. This is a potentially fatal condition that can result in lowered blood pressure, dizziness, and fainting.
To treat dehydration, encourage the victim to rest and replenish their body with water and electrolytes. Hydrate the victim slowly to avoid water intoxication and electrolyte imbalance.
13k) Muscle cramps
Cramps are caused by sudden, involuntary contractions in a muscle. While these spasms tend to subside in a matter of minutes, they can cause significant pain and impairment. Exercise extreme caution if you are swimming and are stricken by a cramp, as the pain may cause you to panic and possibly drown.
Muscle cramps are usually caused by a lack of water and electrolytes. Eating bananas can help prevent cramps, as they contain important nutrients like potassium and magnesium. By taking deep breaths and gently massaging the cramped area, you can reduce some of the pain. Applying heat can also help to reduce the pain from cramps.
13l) Heat exhaustion
There are two main types of heat exhaustion
- Water depletion: Characterized by thirst, headache, a feeling of weakness, and loss of consciousness.
- Sodium depletion: characterized by vomiting, muscle cramps, and dizziness.
Heat exhaustion can progress into heat stroke, and should not be taken lightly. If you suspect that someone is suffering from heat exhaustion, immediately get them into a cool area to rest. Have them drink plenty of fluids and take a cool shower. They may be sensitive to high temperatures for a few days afterward.
Heatstroke is caused when one’s body temperature exceeds 104°F. If untreated, heatstroke can lead to seizures, confusion, loss of consciousness, and even a coma. Common symptoms of a heat stroke are throbbing headaches, dizziness, a lack of sweating despite warm weather, or a feeling of weakness.
If you suspect someone of having heatstroke, immediately call 911. Sit them down in a cool, shady area, and try to lower their body temperature. To prevent heat exhaustion and heatstroke, stay hydrated, wear sun protection and refrain from strenuous activity at the warmest time of day.
13n) Abdominal pain
Mild pain in the abdomen can result from many different causes and is typically not a reason to worry. Most cases are indigestion, constipation, overeating, or a stomach virus. These can be handled by taking an antacid and waiting for around a day.
Using a warm water bottle or applying another form of heat can help to lessen abdominal pain. It’s also a good idea to try to brainstorm the unique cause of your pain. However, if your abdominal pain is severe, continual, or returning, you should contact your doctor.
13o) Broken, chipped, or loosened tooth
If you chip, break or loosen a tooth, be sure to exercise caution not to choke on broken tooth fragments. Clean the area and apply a cold compress which will reduce swelling. Go to the dentist as soon as possible, bringing with you any tooth fragments which may have been dislodged.
In the meantime, if your broken tooth is painful you should take an over-the-counter pain reliever. Also, avoid biting down with the broken tooth. Take extra care not to cut your mouth or tongue on the sharp edges, and avoid any activities where your head may get jarred.
Do the following:
14a) Describe the conditions under which an injured person should be moved.
When responding to a first aid emergency, one of your main concerns should be to not make anyone’s condition worse. As motion can cause further pain and injuries, you should only move an injured person when absolutely necessary. The American Red Cross recommends taking this risk if:
- They or you are faced with an immediate danger, such as a fire or collapsing structure.
- You need to get to another person requiring more urgent medical care.
- When necessary to give proper care. For example, CPR must be done on a flat surface. So, in that case, moving the victim would be appropriate.
If the injured person you’re moving is conscious, tell them what you plan to do and ask for their cooperation. Take special care to protect their head and neck, and try to avoid making contact with any of their open wounds. However, getting the victim out of danger takes precedence over all else.
14b) If a sick or injured person must be moved, tell how you would determine the best method. Demonstrate this method.
14c) With helpers under your supervision, improvise a stretcher and move a presumably unconscious person.
For a great guide on different methods of moving an injured person and improvising a stretcher, check out this informative walkthrough. However, if you’re more of a visual learner and want to learn a good amount of different carry techniques quickly, check out the awesome video (2:29) below:
Keep in mind that the best method of transporting an injured person is by using any method which does not further injure them. In groups, improvising a stretcher is typically the best and most long-distance way of transporting an injured person.
Now that you know the different methods, it’s time to try them out for yourself! With the help of your troop, I’d recommend practicing each of the carrying skills in a fun relay race. 🙂 This is what my troop did to master each of these carries, and it was a really fun and helpful way to learn!
15) Describe the following:
a. The indications that someone might be a danger to themselves or others.
b. What action you should take if you suspect that someone might be a danger to themselves or others.
Mental illness is a tough topic, and one we don’t talk about enough. Unfortunately, suicide is among the leading causes of death in the United States, and is especially prevalent among young people. But what does that have to do with first aid?
Like a wound, fracture, or cardiac arrest, the desire to harm oneself or others is a medical emergency — and one that you can help with until medical care is reached. There are many possible indications that someone may be at risk, and we recommend this article from the Cleveland Clinic for a full list. Here are a few key themes to notice:
- A traumatic event. If someone has recently experienced a major loss or trauma, they may be more likely to be suicidal.
- Sadness and despair. If someone seems depressed, it’s important to show them support. It is especially concerning if they express a feeling of complete hopelessness or despair.
- Sudden calmness. Someone who has been depressed or moody and decides to harm themselves may become calm because they feel at peace with their decision. In other words, a sudden improvement is actually a cause for concern.
- Changes in behavior. This is a broad category, but it might include someone becoming more reckless, caring less about their appearance, hurting themselves, or withdrawing from others.
- Putting their affairs in order. Someone planning to end their life may start giving away their possessions, making a will, etc.
- Talking about suicide. This may seem obvious, but talking about a desire to die is a major warning sign. Not everyone who talks about harming themselves or others will do so, but their words should still be taken very seriously.
If you suspect that someone may be a danger to themselves or others, it is important to get help. If anyone is in immediate danger, call 911. If you are concerned that danger is present but it is not immediate, you can call or text 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org for guidance. Anyone experiencing a mental health crisis can also use these lifeline resources.
In severe situations, if it is possible and safe for you to do so, stay with the person who is in distress. Do what you can to remove their access to dangerous things like knives or medications they could use to overdose. With the help of the 988 lifeline, try to connect them with a mental health professional.
In less severe situations — for example, if you are concerned that a friend seems to be down — make sure that the person knows there is support available. Offer to be a listening ear. Encourage them to connect with a mental health professional while remaining nonjudgmental and expressing that you are there for them.
16) Teach another Scout a first-aid skill selected by your counselor.
Now that you’ve completed this guide to the first aid merit badge, you’re ready to teach any of the skills you just learned to your fellow Scouts! The best way to learn first aid is through practice. Rehearse with your troop how you would handle a medical emergency so that you’re prepared for the real thing.
Helpful Tip: Try using the EDGE method for teaching about first aid!
Congratulations on reading all the way through. You just completed the last requirement! 😀
Now that you’ve learned a ton of useful first-aid techniques and information, practice these skills often! You’ll never know when they’ll be needed. By preparing yourself with knowledge of how to handle any first aid emergency, you’ll be more able to enjoy the exciting activities you do in Scouting!
If you liked this article, I’d also recommend checking out my guide to the Emergency Preparedness merit badge. First aid training allows you to be a person that your troop and community can depend on when disaster strikes, and emergency preparedness is no different!
I hope you’ve found my guide helpful, and that it helped you to answer each requirement on your merit badge worksheet. Share this with your fellow Scouts, and use it as a reference if you ever need a refresher on your first aid skills. Thanks for reading! Come back soon and, until next time, I’m wishing you all the best on your Scouting journey! 🙂