Learning Asthma First Aid Could Save Lives

Many people could be ‘at risk’

Learning Asthma First Aid Could Save Lives Image: Asthma Australia

As the anniversary of last year’s tragic thunderstorm asthma event approaches, people are being urged to learn appropriate first aid steps around asthma management.

Asthma affects one in nine Australians so most people will know someone with asthma in their workplace, school, family or social group.

Queensland University of Technology professor Janet Davies said last year’s event was “very unexpected” given about 40 per cent of those affected were not diagnosed with asthma.

“Most people in the community did not know about thunderstorm asthma prior to the event in November,” she said.

“Many people at risk – those with hay fever, or asthma and hay fever, may not see themselves as vulnerable to thunderstorm asthma.”

Asthma Australia CEO Michele Goldman said “good asthma management year-round” alongside the treatment of hay fever symptoms helped make people less vulnerable to a severe flare-up during a thunderstorm asthma event.

“This includes taking preventer medication as prescribed, having an asthma action plan and an annual review with your doctor,” she said.

Schools and workplaces may also carry a blue reliever puffer in their first aid kits.


Anyone with asthma using their reliever puffer on more than two days per week should talk to their doctor about improving their asthma management.

Alongside medication, the Victorian government has invested $15m in health initiatives to tackle thunderstorm asthma including an alert system via the emergency services.

Alerts can be accessed online or via a smartphone app, with an early warning allowing people to prepare for thunderstorms and high pollen days by limiting pollen exposure, staying indoors with windows closed and air conditioning set to recycle.

Reliever medication to treat asthma flare-ups is effective first aid, is available over the counter at pharmacies and can be accessed at hospital in an emergency.


Asthma Australia has released a short video showing the asthma first aid steps, which are:

  1. Sit the person upright, do not leave them alone.
  2. Give four separate puffs of blue reliever puffer. (Shake puffer, put one puff into spacer, take four breaths from spacer, repeat until four puffs have been taken)
  3. Wait four minutes. If there’s no improvement, give four more separate puffs of blue/grey reliever.
  4. If there is still no improvement call for emergency assistance on Triple Zero (000).

For more information about asthma call the 1800 ASTHMA (278462) Helpline or go to asthmaaustralia.org.au