Islamabad - The international community is all set to observe the World First Aid Day on September 9 this year.

The day was instituted by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in the year 2000, and has been celebrated each year ever since.

The sole purpose of this annual campaign is to promote the importance of first aid training in preventing the injuries and saving lives.

Each year, over 100 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world organised events and ceremonies to raise public awareness of how first aid can save lives in every-day crisis situations.

The IFRC is the largest first aid educator and provider in the world with a network of 38 Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies and over 7.9 million volunteers within the Asia Pacific region alone.

In 2014, over 15 million people were trained, and for more than 150 years, first aid has been provided by the Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers.

This year, the theme of WFAD is ‘Domestic Accidents’ which refers to preventable or unintentional injuries that occur in the home environment.

Homes are often perceived as safe places, but unfortunately this is where 80 per cent of accidents occur and very often in the living room.

Worldwide, the most common preventable injuries that occur in homes are a result of electrical shocks, burns, poisoning, choking, drowning, loss of consciousness, cardiac arrest and falling.

Every domestic accident exposes its victim to physical and mental stress, loss of earning capacity, and productivity. Children, especially, are more vulnerable to domestic accidents.

People belonging to lower socioeconomic status, with underlying medical conditions, residing in poor housing conditions, and absence of proper safety measures are at greater risk of domestic accidents.

In different age groups, the type of accidents is different. For example, elderly people are vulnerable to accidents owing to their poor vision, slow movement, osteoporosis, and osteoarthritis.

Women passing through the gestation phase or facing stress often experience burns, suffocation, electrocution, and cut injury.

In Europe alone, over 3 million people suffer domestic accidents each year, more than 7,000 of which are fatal.

Alarmingly, drowning is among the 10 leading causes of death of children and young people in every region of the world, with children aged less than 5 years disproportionately at risk.

These types of dangers affect all age groups but are the main cause of child mortality in high income countries.

Though in Pakistan studies on domestic accidents are virtually non-existent, the scanty data that is available is mostly hospital-based and it only addresses the epidemiology of a particular type of injury.

In order to determine the patterns of domestic accidents in community and to assess the awareness of participants of their prevention, a household survey was conducted in Hyderabad district of the port city of Karachi from January to November 2015.

A total of 690 participants were included in the survey. The information about domestic accidents among the family members in the last one year from the date of study was acquired by interviewing the family head or responsible adult.

The association of patterns of domestic accidents with demographic characters of the study participants, preventive measures was also assessed.

With 78.4 per cent response rate, the prevalence of domestic accidents was found to be 55.1 per cent.

Domestic accidents were more common in extremes age groups (62.4 per cent), females (55.3 per cent) and in rural population (61.3 per cent).

Injuries due to falls were among the commonly reported accidents (34.2 per cent). Death as a consequence of domestic accidents was almost equally recorded among males and females (22.3 per cent males against 23.8 per cent females).

It was found that domestic accidents were less reported among those who were already aware of remedies against accidents in households.

In order to prevent and control domestic accidents in line with the policy guidelines of the IFRC, the Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) launched its First Training Program that is running successfully in 91 districts and seven provincial branches.

The program imparts first aid education to school, college and university students and the employees of multinational organizations, industries and factories, embassies and hotels and restaurants.

It has also set up First Aid Kiosks at schools and sports complexes.

The PRCS has also launched its Emergency Helpline 1030 for transferring patients to hospitals in case of bomb blasts, traffic accidents and emergency situations.

It’s is one of the largest programs of the society aimed at training at least one family or community member in first aid and be ready to respond during critical situations.

In 2017, a total of 2,493 trainings have been conducted in different parts of the country to date. Training has been imparted to a total of 59,754 people to date out of which 40,132 are males and 19,622 females.

Since Pakistan is a disaster-prone area, the government must introduce a chapter of first-aid in the national syllabus besides launching an intensive training program at the college level modelled on the National Cadet Corps (NCC) program under which military training was imparted to the students of colleges and universities till 2002.

The training should be declared compulsory and admission to colleges and universities for higher education must be subject to production of training certificate.

This single measure will ensure a well-prepared society to effectively deal with emergency situations without looking for foreign aid and support.

–The writer is Principal Information Officer at Pakistan Red Crescent, Islamabad.


khalid bin majeed