I was recruited to a first-aid group that was formed and equipped to effectively respond to any emergencies at our workplace.
We were taken through a short course to enable the new recruits — a good number of whom had not done first aid before — to learn basic but crucial life-saving skills.
The class took a whole day, albeit condensed to cover the common accidents and emergency situations that occur both at home and at work such as choking, drowning, seizures and the like.
I was stunned to realise just how ignorant I have been about basic first aid. It was humbling to know how every given day, we are surrounded by situations that expose us to accidents and other forms of danger but which we are so oblivious to.
For example, what many of us have always known to be a simple first-aid move for nose bleeding — i.e., to tilt the head backwards and place a wet cloth on the forehead — was dismissed by our expert instructors. Similarly trashed was the common habit of placing ice cubes on burns. This, we were told, even worsens the burn.
This got me wondering about how many accidents turn fatal just because people do not know what to do in such situations.
I know of a family that lost a baby due to choking. They did not know how to administer first aid to the baby, and tragedy struck. First aid saves lives and the lack of it may lead to very serious and permanent injuries, if not death.
It is difficult to discuss first aid without mentioning rescue and recovery missions. They all go to together sometimes. One always has to rescue a victim before administering first aid. I was left wondering how the government can help Kenyans acquire this crucial knowledge that, in some instances, can mean the difference between life and death for victims.
When I was a young girl, short programmes on road safety were a common feature on our TV screens.
Despite my tender age, I understood some of the rules one should follow while driving. How about airing TV shows on basic first aid and rescue missions, airing for around 10 minutes every day or week?
Accidents can happen anywhere, not just at home. It could be in the office, on the streets, in school, even at the hospital. Acting first to save someone’s life is key. But one should know what they need to do, right?
A stranger could get a seizure such as an epilepsy fit and you are the only one there to help. Many just watch helplessly, yet they could be of great help if they had the most rudimentary knowledge. But even then, wouldn’t it be better to just scream for help when caught up in such a situation? Maybe someone within earshot would be in a position to assist.
Fresh in our minds is the Likoni incident in which a mother and her daughter drowned after the family car plunged into the Indian Ocean. The tragedy got many Kenyans talking and wondering how, if faced with the same situation, they would save themselves or try to.
TRAPPED IN CAR
Many also wondered if the woman tried to rescue herself and her daughter. Perhaps she did or, perhaps not. Maybe she did not know how to swim or she was trapped in the car and could not open the windows or doors. That happens, by the way.
But how many of us know that in such a situation, pulling out the head rest of the car seat and using it to smash the car windows and windscreens offers an opportunity for survival, no matter how small?
The government should enact a policy that requires broadcasters to air programmes on first aid, road safety, rescue and other life-saving skills.
Without doubt, the fatalities would reduce tremendously. Saving just one life is a big achievement. Imagine how many more would be saved if all of us 47 million Kenyans watched and learned these critical skills! Over to you, policymakers!
Lisa Mugunda is a graphic designer at Nation Media Group.