World First Aid Day - 14th September 2019

Millions of people die across the globe each year, as they did not receive the immediate action for their illness at that critical moment. The action of providing that immediate attention is called FIRST AID. The aim of first aid is to give the earliest possible assistance to persons suffering from an injury or illness, which, if delayed, could result in the condition of the injured or sick person becoming critically ill or even fatal. First aid does not only save lives, but the early attention given to those in need of it may help in their speedy recovery.

First aid, as we know it today dates, back 160 years. It was in June 1859 that Henry Dunant, a Swiss businessman, witnessed horrifying carnage at the battle of Solferino in Italy. Unwilling to be a passive spectator to the unfolding horror, he mobilized the nearby civilian population, including women and children, to render care to the wounded, with no distinction made as to which side of the fighting they were on. Dunant procured whatever medical supplies were available and set up temporary hospitals to provide immediate care. The book he wrote about his experience “A Memory of Solferino” was a major factor in the establishment of the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1863.

Although there have been great advances in healthcare in India, the avoidable loss of life due to injury or serious illness is staggering and the number continues to grow. While lifestyle choices, stress and sedentary living are among the main contributors to the worsening problem, the lack of awareness on how to deal with emergency medical situations is a major reason for the rising number of fatalities. Across the world, there is a movement to provide people, from all walks of life, with the training and information they need to give first aid to people until formal medical assistance arrives. Unfortunately in our country the awareness of First Aid still lags behind.

First aid does not replace the need for medical attention or preempt the role of emergency medical services. It provides vital care and support for the critically ill and injured to improve their chances of surviving until proper medical care is available. Any adult can be trained to provide first aid and by doing so, save lives that would otherwise be lost.

The Aims of First Aid – the 3 Ps

  • Preserve life.
  • Prevent further harm / illness or injury.
  • Promote recovery.

Do’s and Don’ts in First Aid

  • Type of Emergency / Injury
  • Head Injury

    (As a result of fall or Road traffic accident)

    Be cautious if you suspect head injury - avoid excessive movement of head and neck

    Stabilise the head and neck

    Seek medical help if patient develops:

    > 1 episode of vomiting

    Altered mentation

    Fits / Ear or Nose bleed

    Avoid moving the patient unless in immediate danger then move to safe area

    Don’t place pressure over the head

    Don’t pack the nose and ears with dressings

    Don’t remove objects sticking out of a head wound

  • Bruises (localized blood collection as a result of injury) Or Sprains

    Apply ice immediately

    Elevate the bruised area

    Take Ibuprofen or Paracetamol

    Don’t Apply heat or take hot water shower (Heat from hot water shower or hot fomentation can cause more bleeding under the skin and cause the swelling to increase further)

  • Burns

    Place it under cold running water immediately for 20-30 min

    Don’t apply salt / aloevera gel / butter / oil /turmeric powder over the wound

    Avoid rubbing the wound rigorously (will lead to skin peeling)

    Avoid removing clothes that are stuck to the burn site rigorously

  • Cuts and Scrapes

    Wash them thoroughly with running water

    Compresses with clean dressing

    Elevate the limb / area injured

    Avoid using alcohol or hydrogen peroxide over the wound

  • Fits / Seizures

    Cushion Head / remove glasses

    Loosen tight clothing

    Turn on one side

    Time the fits/seizure using your watch

    Look for ID / Medical history

    Transfer to hospital for further management

    Don’t hold them down forcefully

    Don’t put anything in the mouth

    Don’t give anything to drink or eat during the seizure and after the seizure until fully awake

  • Tablet or Substance Over dosage

    Stay calm and reassure the patient

    Bring any remaining substance or container to the hospital

    Call for help immediately

    Do not make the person vomit

    Do not give anything orally to eat or drink

    Do not leave the person alone

  • Animal Bite (Dog / Cat / Bat / Rat)

    Stay calm and reassure the patient

    Wash the bite site thoroughly with soap and water for 20 min

    Seek medical help immediately

    Don’t assume dog / cat is healthy (Obtain vaccination status of the pet or street dog and if vaccinated - when was the last date of vaccination)

    In case of rat or bat bite - not applicable.

  • Insect Bite / Food or Drug Allergy

    (Someone develops rashes / itching after insect bite or consumption of a particular medicine or food stuff)

    Stay calm and reassure the patient

    If patient develops breathing difficulty, chest tightness, giddiness, change in voice, lip or tongue swelling - to seek medical help immediately at a hospital

    Do not self-prescribe medications

    If lip and tongue swelling there, or if patient with altered mentation - do not give anything orally to eat or drink.

Every household should have a Basic First Aid Kit for Emergency Use

It must include the following items as recommended

Content - Net. Qty. (in unit)

  • Crepe Bandage 6cm X 4m - 1
  • Adhesive Bandage (1.9 X 7.2)cm - 4
  • Adhesive Bandage 2.5 cm - 4
  • Pain Relief Gel 30g - 1
  • Povidone Iodine Ointment 20g - 1
  • Clinical Thermometer - 1
  • Antiseptic Liquid 50ml - 1
  • Microporous Surgical Tape 1.25cm - 1
  • Disprin Tablets - 10
  • Paracetamol IP 500mg tablets - 15
  • Absorbent Cotton Wool I.P. 15g - 1
  • Gauze Swab 5cm x 5cm x 12ply - 4
  • Absorbent Gauze Roll 7.5cm x 4cm - 2
  • Scissor Small - 1
  • Container with Lid - 1
  • First Aid Leaflet - 1

This year’s World First Aid Day Theme being “First Aid is for Everyone, Everywhere”

Lets all be Good Samaritans - Let us all do a little bit right to save a life.

Article by Dr. Aslesha Sheth, MBBS., MRCEM (UK)
Consultant & In-Charge Emergency Medicine Department
Kauvery Hospital


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