Accidents: anybody can be a first aider

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Car crash. Image from Mwende Maritim

Early this morning as I did my stretches I heard that deadly vehicle screech that churns the stomach. I rushed to my second floor window to see the cause. On the edge of the highway adjacent to my estate’s perimeter wall, a young man, perhaps in his early twenties, lay motionless on the cold, hard tarmac.

This was yet another jaw dropping incident that NHC Langata residents have witnessed among many others. Earlier this year, a Toyota saloon car crashed head on into a stalled trailer at a sharp corner, perhaps due to poor or rather lack of lighting on the road. This caused a tailback on the busy road and left residents shuddering at the thought of the worst case scenario such as a fuel tanker bursting into flames. A few weeks ago, an over speeding Subaru veered off the same road, over the perimeter wall and stopped smack on the backside wall of a ground floor apartment.

Car crash. Image from Mwende Maritim
Car crash. Image from Mwende Maritim

The Southern Bypass is by all means an important piece of infrastructure well planned and constructed by the Kenya National Highway Authority and the contracted China Road and Bridge Corporation. For years to come, it will greatly help in decongesting other roads and will sure serve Nairobi and its environs well.

However, road safety installations for both pedestrians and residents living nearby need to be put up urgently before a greater tragedy, which could be mitigated, strikes.

As the authorities figure out how to go about this, my cry is to every mwananchi, whether you are a pedestrian or driver, learning basic first aid is vital, it can save a life and limb.

The young man lying motionless on the road was quickly and roughly hauled into a Good Samaritan’s vehicle and rushed off, perhaps to the nearest hospital. I hope they got there in good time, nonetheless, the most ideal way would have been to first signal cars to slow down and re-route them away from the casualty, then quickly check for breathing, a pulse, then help him regain consciousness. Once the vital sign are confirmed, then the trip to a hospital would commence while continually monitoring the condition of the individual.

While a Good Samaritan’s move is well meaning and appreciated, it may cause more harm than good for instance, by aggravating a spinal injury or causing more bleeding through rough movement.

First Aid keeps a bad situation from getting worse. It is the initial assistance given to someone who has been hurt or has suddenly become sick. It helps to preserve life, prevent the condition from worsening, and promote recovery.
Anyone can give First Aid, so anyone can be a Lifesaver.

Here is the basic procedure to remember when you find yourself near an incident that requires First Aid, plus if you are able and willing to assist;

1. Assess the situation quickly and safely. Call for appropriate help.

2. Protect casualties and bystanders from possible danger. This also involves removing sharp objects from the casualty’s pockets. Keep them safely for him/her.

3. Avoid cross infection by wearing gloves if available or use some sort of barrier like a clean paper bag.

4. Check on the casualty with the most serious condition – that is the unconscious one. Always follow the ABC order to check;

Airways and clear of any blockage.
Breathing, by feeling warm air against your cheek from the casualty’s nostrils or checking for up and down chest movement.
Circulation– Check for a pulse, by looking for throbbing at the temples on the head, or by feeling on the wrist or neck, or other signs of circulation, such as movement, groaning, or coughing. Also check for severe bleeding and control it.

If victim is not breathing but has signs of circulation, go to rescue breathing. If victim is not breathing and has no signs of circulation, go to CPR. This is vital because within minutes of lacking air and blood important functions like the brain start to shut down.

5. Lastly, move the casualty to a clinic or hospital depending on the situation.

Read more on First Aid ABC’s here or check out this quick video.

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