On World Asthma Day (May 2) the National Asthma Council Australia is calling on Australians to be ready
for any future asthma emergencies by knowing asthma first aid.
Dave talks with Dr. Jonathan Burdon AM, Chair of the National Asthma Council Australia.He explains Education to assist communities to prepare for and respond to thunderstorm asthma events is a key
recommendation of the final report into Victoria’s thunderstorm asthma event of 21 and 22 November
2016, handed down last week by the state’s Inspector-General for Emergency Management.
Whilst many people were directly affected with asthma symptoms, some severely, there were many more
who experienced the frightening circumstances of seeing family and friends being unable to breathe.
Dr. Jonathan Burdon AM, Chair of the National Asthma Council Australia and respiratory physician, says
that individuals and communities need help to be better prepared for responding to asthma incidents.
However, the best way to treat asthma symptoms is to avoid them happening in the first place by making
sure your asthma is under control and following your written asthma action plan. If you haven’t previously
had a diagnosis of asthma and are experiencing breathing problems, book in to have a review with your
You may benefit from preventer medication and having an action plan for emergencies.”
National Asthma Council Australia advises that an asthma flare-up or attack can come on gradually with
worsening symptoms over a few days, or strike quite suddenly. Asthma first aid is needed when a person:
• Has increasing asthma symptoms of wheezing, cough, chest tightness or shortness of breath
• Has symptoms that get worse very quickly or aren’t improving
• Has severe shortness of breath or obvious difficulty breathing
• Can’t speak comfortably in full sentences
• Gets little or no relief from their reliever inhaler.
National Asthma Council Australia advises the following asthma first aid steps:
1. Sit the person upright.
2. Give four puffs of a blue/grey reliever (e.g. Ventolin, Asmol or Airomir). Use a spacer, if available.
Give one puff into the spacer at a time with four breaths after each puff.
3. Wait four minutes. If the person still cannot breathe normally, give another four puffs.
4. If the person still cannot breathe normally CALL AN AMBULANCE IMMEDIATELY (dial 000), say they
are having an asthma attack. Keep giving the reliever, four puffs every four minutes until the
In an emergency, if you are unsure whether someone is having an anaphylaxis reaction or an asthma
attack, give the person their adrenaline autoinjector (EpiPen) FIRST, then give their asthma reliever.
For standard procedures to use when an adult or child is having an asthma attack, including how to use
Bricanyl or Symbicort inhalers for first aid, the National Asthma Council Australia’s first aid poster can be
downloaded or printed from www.nationalasthma.org.au/asthma-first-aid.
In Australia, one in 10 adults and children have asthma. Around 4 out of 5 people with asthma also have
allergies, such as pollen-related hay fever.
If you have asthma, it is important to know what triggers an attack. Avoiding triggers, if possible, can help
to control your asthma.
For more information, visit the National Asthma Council Australia website www.nationalasthma.org.au