First aid in Nepal: an increasing more important skill
Nepal is a very beautiful country, but the country has many issues regarding public health services especially in rural areas. In the rural areas there are no hospitals or health services, and if there are any, they are located very far away. In every VDC there is the local health posts, but these have very limited resources, and not well trained staff. This is one of the many reasons that rural people are more vulnerable to health related issues.
First aid are basic skills that anyone can be taught, but are very useful. Especially since accidents do not usually happen in front of the hospital, but in front of YOU. When you learn first aid, you will know how to save a stranger’s life, as well as a loved one.
And in the future, knowing first aid, and CPR will become critical, if there is no change in the common health in Nepal. Heart diseases are on the rise, for example CVD (cardiovascular diseases) is expected to rise to 34, 9 % by 2030.
This is of course if there is done nothing to try and prevent this, if there were done something, the numbers would be different. Unfortunately it is not expected that much will be done, to prevent this. Nepal is a poor country with few resources. This means that knowing first aid, might be the only way you will be able to save the life of a loved one.
Traffic accidents are on the rise as well in Nepal, from the fiscal 2010/2011 to 2011/2012 there have been a rise to 10,22 %, and there had been 5,40 % more people killed in traffic accidents. Traffic accidents often have many victims with many injuries, where it is important to quickly act in order to save their life. It may be difficult to acquire an ambulance, the fire brigade or the police, if you are not in the middle of Kathmandu. So this means that you me be the only help there.
I talked with a few local women in the Jitpur community, just 15 kilometers from Kathmandu. Some of these women had been given first aid training, some of them had not had any training. But both groups of women, had the same understanding, that first aid is very important. “I am interested in first aid, if someone is collapsed or anything happens, we can save their lives. When ambulance or vehicle has not arrived, we can still save their lives.” – Sita Lamichhane, Jitpur 6 Phedi. Since these women had their training only a month ago, their experience with first aid, is very short.
Some of them had, some understanding prior to the first aid course. Because they had gone to school, and in school, they had learned little first aid. But many in the rural areas have never gone to school, and their knowledge is limited to the traditional medicine. Many still uses plant medicine, to help with their wounds, but they do not know about ways to treat other injuries.
Here are a couple of tips for first aid keep in mind that this does not serve as a first aid course. You will still need proper training.
Wounds and cuts- clean with water and soap, or antiseptic if you have that. Protect the wound or cut from bacteria by applying a Band-Aid on it.
Big bleedings- Apply pressure and elevate, you can apply pressure with either your fingers or bandages. The bandages can you wrap around the wound tightly.
Bites from either dog or snake- Clean it and take the injured to a hospital immediately, since they need their rabies shot, or an antidote for the snake poison. If you know what kind of snake it is, that information would be useful, for the doctor to pick the right antidote. Otherwise describe the snake’s looks as well as possible.
Fever- fever is usually not that severe and can be treated with rest, and parcetamol. Parcetamol will help to reduce the fever as well as helping with the pain, if there is any. If the fever lasts for more than two or three days, see a doctor, since you might have something severe than just the common cold, and need antibiotics. But since there are many different antibiotics the doctor, needs to know what you are suffering from to treat you correctly.
Recovery position, is a position you can lie the person in if the person is breathing and has a pulse. In this position you can keep checking for breathing and pulse until help arrives.
CPR- cardio pulmonary resuscitation. First you start by checking the breathing and the pulse, if there is none, you start with 30 compressions and then give two blows in to mouth also known as mouth to mouth resuscitation. You keep doing this until help arrives.
So now you know something about what first aid is, why it is important and about the growing need especially in Nepal and you actually know some first aid, by the tips I gave you earlier, but what now?
Well you can go and have a first aid course, The Red Cross in Nepal gives first aid courses, you could sign up for one of those. You can share this article with your friends, perhaps on Facebook? With your friends you can further discuss the importance and your new interest in first aid. You could also, join an NGO, like VIN- Volunteers initiative Nepal and volunteer, spread the word about first aid, maybe even teaching first aid, if you get a first aid course yourself. That is what I did, I taught first aid here in Nepal, and it was a great experience
Written by Isabella Jakobsen intern at VIN