First Aid is the act of helping people out of dangerous situations and making them more comfortable until definitive treatment can be accessed. It is important that we follow the best practices to save the casualties lives rather than help them to die due to our avoidable errors. First aid is very simple and a good potentially life-saving practises when performed correctly.
I have watched with keen interest the unprofessional manner we handle casualties of accidents and emergencies in Nigeria. Nigeria has one of the poorest first aid preparedness and we often allow emotion and panic to take over when there is accidents, people carelessly rush to lift accident victims, leading to outright death. The casualty have gone through trauma and a possible hit to some of their vital organs, lifting them suddenly out of panic will only aggravate the injury and lead to outright death. People who are not trained and do not know how to offer first aid to accident casualties often attend to them leading to the death of the casualties even before getting to the hospital.
Casualties in accident do not need to be subjected to panic or undue emotions, that will worsen the situation and lead to undue shock and in many occasions to heart attack and outright death of the casualty. I recently attended a few days course in first aid with the St. John's Ambulance to learn the best first-aid practices and was shocked by the errors we make and the unnecessary death we cause daily by our negligence and inconsistencies. We commit manslaughter on a daily basis and this needs to stop.
Nigerians need to attend first aid trainings as this will be needed some day, either by themselves, relations, friends or neighbours. There is need for training to learn the recognised first aid practises so we can save our lives, we need to inculcate first aid trainings to our schools, private and public sectors, to all parastatals, groups and agencies. We need certified first aiders at work, on the street and at home.
Our ambulance services needs to be improved and the Government need to allocate adequate parts of the budget to providing ambulance, rescue helicopters and ferries, with well trained first aiders to help curtail this incessant deaths from the hands of untrained Nigerians, providing wrong first aid to casualties. A lot of Nigerians believe that ambulance is for conveying dead people, this needs to be corrected, ambulance is primarily designed to save people's lives during emergencies and accidents. The Government also need to do a lot more in making live more meaningful to the populace by providing adequate Emergency and Accidents(E&A) centres to help casualties access medical facilities at the quickest possible time after an accident. A nation with no adequate E&A centres all over the country is a nation leaving its people for the slaughter.
A first aid kit is a collection of supplies and equipments for use in giving first aid. A typical first aid kit should contain adhesive bandages, disinfectant, pain killers, disposable gloves, scissors, trauma shears, emergency blanket, defibrillator and many more equipments based on trainings and availability. First aiders needs to carry around first aid kit on the back of their vehicles and we need to ensure all public places have constantly revamped first aid kit. Standard first aid kit needs to be green, with a white cross and placed in easily accessible location in order to make them easily recognisable as set by the International Standard Organisation (ISO).
When there is an accident, follow the simple international procedure of accessing the situation first. Do not panic or rush to lift the casualty or objects on or around the casualty. Check the area is not of any risk to you or the casualty, once you decide it becomes safe to approach the accident scene, start by clearing the environment of dangerous objects to prevent further injury to the casualty or yourselves. Then you need to check the casualty to know if they are visibly conscious. Does the casualty respond to your voice or gentle stimulation? If the casualty is conscious, ask questions such as, what happened?, you can also give command such as; open your eyes. You need to speak loudly and clearly. Gently shake the casualty’s shoulder, if there is response, call for ambulance or treat the condition found if not severe.
If the casualty is not responding or unconscious, you need to place your hand on the casualty's forehead and gently tilt the head back, try to place the finger of your hand under the point of the casualty's chin, lift the chin to free the airway and look for chest movement, listen for the sound of breathing. If the casualty is not breathing, or has agonal breathing, call for emergency help or begin chest compression.
To start chest compression, place the heel of your hand on top of the first hand and interlock your fingers. Keep your fingers off casualty's ribs, but on on the centre of the casualty's chest, this is the point at which you will apply pressure, lean over the casualty, with your arms straight. Press down vertically on the chest depress about 4 -5cm (11/2 – 2 in). Release the pressure and let chest recoil. Following the above procedure, compress the chest 30 times, at the rate of 100 compressions per minutes. Then you need to Tilt the head, lift the chin and give two rescue breaths. Keep alternating 30 chest compressions with two rescue breaths, continue the compression until emergency help arrives and take over or until casualty starts breathing normally. Once the casualty becomes responsive, place in recovery position and awaits emergency services.