Since its introduction by The International Red Cross Red Crescent in the year 2000, World First Aid Day has been celebrated every year on the second Saturday in September. It is a day dedicated to helping raise awareness of life-saving acts everywhere.
One of our favourite events, this year’s theme is “First Aid and Road Safety”, so naturally we’d like to share important tips offering guidance in such emergency scenarios. Being trained in first aid is a positive attribute that has the potential to prevent an injury or illness deteriorating, providing its administered promptly.
This perfectly leads us to the 3 P’s, a simple way to remember the aims and priorities of first aid. First and foremost, Preserve life, then Prevent injury or illness becoming worse, and finally Promote recovery.
The 3 P’s in action
Preserve life - A priority here is to preserve life by conducting emergency first aid. A prime example would be to administer CPR to a casualty who is not breathing normally. Another example is to stop a severe bleed on a casualty who is breathing and shows signs of a suspected fractured limb.
Prevent deterioration - The second aim of first aid is to prevent the casualty’s injury or illness from becoming worse. For example, this may involve asking a casualty with a broken limb to remain still and applying padding around the injury to prevent the suspected fracture from further damage.
Promote recovery - Finally, promote recovery by arranging immediate medical assistance. A great example of this would be cooling a burn to encourage early healing. Applying basic first aid can significantly reduce the recovery time for a long term injury.
No first aid knowledge, no action?
Not necessarily! More so than not, being armed with first aid knowledge allows for positive action in an emergency situation. Recent statistics offer a staggering realization of how many lives could be saved, and injuries reduced, if more people were equipped to deliver first aid on the scene of a traffic accident. In the year ending June 2017, there were 27,130* killed or seriously injured casualties in reported road traffic incidents and accidents. Although the numbers are estimated, this provides an indication to the scale of the catastrophe. What is especially encouraging is that even the most basic of first aid knowledge and action can make a significant contribution towards a positive outcome.
* Source: Department for Transport UK - http://bit.ly/2Mrv9h5
Picture this scenario…
A haphazardly parked vehicle catches your attention as you slowly approach it. Instinctively, you take a quick glance into the stationary vehicle and notice the driver is unconscious with the seatbelt fastened and his head resting against the side window. No passengers are present to offer assistance, so you pull over in front of the vehicle and put your hazard lights on. You are the first person on the scene and your mind begins to race through all of the possible steps you should take, having recently refreshed your first aid training.
You are aware your own safety is a priority, so decide to slow any oncoming traffic filtering through the narrow lanes as you approach the scene. You are relieved there is no evidence of spilled fuel or any other flammable hazards. With all known hazards minimised, you open the door, carefully straightening the driver’s tilted head, conscious of a possible spinal injury. You then turn off the ignition, switch on the hazard lights and undo the seatbelt. At this point, you try to flag the passing drivers for assistance to call the emergency services. With no immediate response, you decide to assess the driver for any life-threatening conditions prior to calling for an ambulance.
Your mind is in overdrive with all possible first aid scenarios.
Is the driver:
Unconscious, unresponsive, and breathing?
Ensure the driver’s head is tilted back in a position that maintains the airway.
Minimise any movement to the driver where possible and avoid twisting him.
Assure the driver in a calm tone of voice, check for and prioritise any major bleeding or life-threatening injuries.
Keep the driver warm and phone for an ambulance.
Unconscious, unresponsive, and not breathing? This scenario calls for immediate resuscitation (CPR).
If you are on your own, using your speaker phone function, call for an ambulance at this point.
If necessary, ask the operator for best resuscitation advice whilst the driver is in the car, to avoid any unnecessary movement.
When should you move the driver?
Only attempt to remove an unconscious driver from the vehicle if danger is imminent. A fire, flood, or explosion are just a few examples. Moving an unconscious casualty is a challenge. Always ask the emergency operator for the best advice in order to minimise further injury and the possible risk of causing yourself harm.
There is no substitute for training
It’s no wonder we are incredibly passionate about what we do! Lives are potentially at risk and educating as many people as possible on accident and injury prevention, subsequently, arms them with the skills needed to swiftly respond to both major and minor emergencies with confidence. Primed with even basic knowledge can make you a huge measure of assistance at the scene of a traffic incident or an accident.
These basic tips are a guidance and complement first aid training in assisting a casualty at a roadside emergency. There is no substitute for thorough training covering both practical and theory exercises.
Please join us in spreading awareness of first aid and road safety in celebration of World First Aid Day 2018. Feel free to share this article with others or throw in a comment or two below. That one small act might be what saves a person’s life!
Be a lifesaver, not a bystander.
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