Some of us have been in difficult situations where medical help was not accessible immediately. And then we were told that if only some effective care was given promptly, recovery would have been better and the damage minimised. Someday you might find yourself in a situation where you have more than one to care for (as in a road traffic accident), the need to know how to triage (which is defined as the assignment of degrees of urgency to wounds or illnesses to decide the order of treatment) – to know who needs the most help, and who can just be maintained until help arrives is such a great thing. There are also times when intervention might make things worse because it was done instinctively and out of ignorance.
I do not know why our country does not invest suffuciently in healthcare and why we don’t have good paramedical support for ourselves while we are exporting it world over. I will save that discussion for another time. Right now I just want to stress that as parents and caregivers it is of utmost importance to learn how to stay calm, assess and take control of the situation and respond in medical emergencies before help arrives. Knowing when to take care of something yourself, when to seek the assistance of a doctor, or when to call the ambulance first is hard as parents. It difficult to separate the emotion from the situation and know how to proceed. But knowledge is power.
I am listing out a set of first aid measures that one should know and the minimal equipment to be kept handy. I believe that hands-on training is absolutely necessary and that reading about the procedures or even watching them are no substitutes. Knowing the correct procedures can make the difference between life and death. Make these a priority for you to learn and make sure you spread the message to schools, day-care centres and activity places that your children attend.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
I want to emphasise that the chance of contracting infections from resuscitation efforts is very minimal. Guidelines have changed after several studies have established that giving chest thrusts (technically compressions) takes priority over giving mouth to mouth or mouth to nose breaths. Do train yourself in this essential skill. I wish this was taught to students in class ten along with all that supposedly prepares them for life.