Asthma – 8 Die in recent event

As recent events have shown us, asthma attacks can strike fast and to a widespread range of individuals. Even those who have never been affected before could develop asthma over their lives and experience a sudden onset for the very first time during an extreme weather condition. Melbourne is known as a global hotspot for the ‘thunderstorm asthma’ phenomenon, so we tend to experience more cases of it than anywhere else in the world.

Knowing what to do for asthma first aid will help if this happens to you or anyone around you.

Factors triggering an asthma attack include

Although Asthma is treatable and usually can be managed well, there is no known cure and can affect people differently. Recognising and treating symptoms early can reduce the severity of an attack

  • Workplace contaminants
  • Exposure to a sudden change in weather conditions, especially cold air
  • Smoke and fumesasthma-preventer
  • Respiratory infections
  • Allergies (eg, to pollens, foods, bee sting)
  • Anxiety or emotional stress
  • House dust
  • Certain food additives or preservatives
  • Exercise

Signs and Symptoms

How do you know if you might experience thunderstorm asthma? A study found that in 95% of those affected, they’d had a history of hay fever and allergies. If this is you, a workmate or a family member, you should be particularly aware of what to do for asthma first aid.

Someone suffering from an asthma attack may be

  • Unable to get enough air
  • Progressively more anxious, short of breath, subdued or panicky
  • Focused only on breathing
  • Coughing, wheezing
  • Pale, sweating
  • Blue around the lips, ear lobes or fingertips
  • Unconscious

Be Aware
A wheeze may be audible, however, in a severe attack there may be so little air movement that a wheeze may not be heard.

Cough, soft wheeze
Minor difficulty breathing
No difficulty speaking in sentences

Persistent cough, loud wheeze
Obvious difficult breathing
Able to speak in short sentences

Very distressed, anxious
Gasping for breath
Able to speak only a few gasping words in only one breath
Pale and sweaty
May have blue lips

First Aid for an Asthma Attack

If the casualty is unconscious, follow DRSABCD and call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance.
For conscious casualties, following the 4 x 4 x 4 method is the best first aid treatment for an asthma attack.


With millions of Australians suffering from asthma and many more millions from hay fever that could trigger asthma, we should all be prepared with the knowledge and equipment to manage an asthma attack.

As a precaution, everyone can keep a reliever inhaler (e.g. Ventolin) in their personal First Aid kit to use should the need arise. Ventolin is available without a prescription to anyone in Victoria and if taken by non-asthmatics will not be harmful.

Do your staff know how to manage an asthma attack?  Can they do CPR for the time it takes an ambulance arrive?  Do your staff know where the first aid equipment is and how to use it effectively


Anyone having a SEVERE asthma attack needs urgent medical treatment. 

Call triple zero (000) for an ambulance