Preparing children for emergencies

Emergency medical technician and first aid Instructor, Samantha Adams, explains what a broken bone looks like.

At a first aid workshop hosted at Athlone library by the Helping Hands Academy on Saturday, children were taught what to do in emergency situations.

Most important, said the organisation’s emergency medical technician and first aid instructor, Samantha Adams, was that children knew which number to dial for an ambulance – 10177 from a landline and 112 from a cellphone.

It was also important to give emergency personnel your name and surname, contact details, and address before ending the call.

“Tell them why you are calling and make sure that they have all your details before you hang up. Rather wait for them to hang up to make sure that they have all the relevant information,” she said.

The children were then divided into teams which had to role play emergency situations, and parents were advised to keep first aid kits in their homes and vehicles.

“Each first aid kit can include gloves, a mouth piece, bandages, disinfectant, a pupil torch, burn shield, an eye patch, and cotton wool. There should be different types of bandages. If someone has injured their one eye, tell them to close their other eye as well or put the patch over it to avoid straining the uninjured eye, because our eyes work together,” she said.

Wounds, she said, should be cleansed with diluted Dettol or Savlon before being bandaged. She also advised uing cotton pads rather than cotton wool, which could leave threads sticking to the wound.

“With a bleeding wound, place a cloth or bandage over it and apply pressure to it with the palm of your hand and hold down for 10 to 15 minutes. This will cause the blood to clot in the vein and the bleeding will stop,” she said.

Ms Adams said if a bone had been broken, the affected area would be red and swollen and the patient would be in tremendous pain because there are many nerves which would have been damaged when the white covering of the bone was broken.

“If someone breaks a bone, tell them to relax because any movement could cause further damage. Talk to the person about things which will relax them and if the foot or leg is injured, place a pillow under it by placing one hand under the injured part and the other under the uninjured part and lift it. Ask someone to place the pillow underneath the foot or leg,” she said.

Ms Adams said one could check whether a bandage was too tight by monitoring the temperature and colour of the affected area. You could also ask the patient if you’ve tied the bandage tightly enough.

And while one’s first instinct may be to remove a piece of glass or other object from a wound, Ms Adams warned that this could cause increased bleeding and advised to leave the object in place until emergency services arrived.

When treating a burn wound, she added, one should place the affected area under running cold water for 20 to 30 minutes or apply burn shield ointment to cool down the area.

“This is something you should always keep at home,” she said, referring to the burn shield. “The cooling effect will last for hours and has the same effect as keeping the affected area under running water for 30 minutes. It also helps with the healing process,” she added.