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Can a First Aider Give Aspirin to a Heart Attack Casualty?

Posted on: October 9th, 2014 by Gemma



As a general rule of thumb, the HSE state that First Aid at Work does not include giving tablets or medications to treat injury or illness, as trained professionals can only administer medications. If the casualty has their own medication, the first aider’s role is limited to helping them safely take their own medication. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule, including giving aspirin to a casualty suffering from a suspected heart attack.


Provided that the aspirin is easily accessible and the casualty is not allergic, current first aid protocol allows the first aider to assist the casualty in taking up to 300mg of aspirin and asking them to chew it slowly. Aspirin has been proven to help limit the extent of damage to the heart muscle by helping to reduce clot formation, hence why this exception has been made.


However, there are a few limitations to this. Firstly, it is important to reinforce that aspirin should never be given to a casualty under the age of 16, due to the risk of a rare condition called Reye’s syndrome that causes potentially fatal damage to the liver and brain. It is also recommended that aspirin is not kept in a first aid box, so first aiders must be very careful when sourcing aspirin to give to a casualty


So next time you are asked a question about medication on a course, make sure you spare a thought for future heart attack casualties who will rely on those quick thinking first aiders and their knowledge of aspirin