Saudi Gazette – MANY medical experts have underlined the importance of raising first-aid awareness among members of the general public in order to save lives in critical situations. They say basic first response can increase chances of survival, mitigate serious injuries and help to calm and stabilize affected people in an emergency. However, about 60 percent of casualties do not receive any form of bystander assistance before the arrival of the ambulance.

Interference by people who witness road accidents and other emergencies without proper knowledge of how to handle the situation could jeopardize the lives of victims, Al-Riyadh daily reported quoting the experts.

The Saudi Red Crescent Society (SRCS) has reiterated its calls on the general public, both Saudis and non-Saudis, to immediately call 997 to report any accident that takes place in front of them and not to touch the victims unless they had received proper first-aid training. It also urged the public to make way to paramedics and ambulances and not gather around accident scenes.

Dr. Montadir Bograin encourages members of the public who have taken first-aid or cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) courses to step in and help if the injured is suffering from minor conditions.

“If all of us can identify the signs of cardiac arrest and know how to perform CPR, we can save many more lives,” Bograin said.

He however said if an accident victim had neck or back injuries, then it is not wise to step in and help unless one is completely aware of the basics of first aid.

“If someone does not know how to help the victim, he should call paramedics and wait until they arrive at the scene. I believe the Saudi Red Crescent and other foundations are not doing enough to raise public awareness about the importance of taking first-aid courses,” Bograin said.

Dr. Muhammad Al-Hassan agreed that the best thing to do is not to move the injured as any mistake can lead to paralysis or exacerbate the injuries. He called for building more Red Crescent posts on highways and said the distance from one center to another should not be more than 50 kilometers.

Dr. Muhammad Al-Dookhi said while the victims of accidents who sustain severe injuries need immediate help and intervention, only specialized paramedics should provide such help. All members of society should cooperate with the paramedics and not obstruct their way so that they can come to the rescue of the injured and rush them to hospital before it is too late.
“Members of the public should take different first-aid courses to learn how to stop bleeding as bleeding is one of the main causes of deaths in accidents. They should learn how and when to administer first aid,” he said.

Dr. Emad Matar said the SRCS should organize more awareness campaigns to educate the public about the importance of complying with speed limits, fastening seat belts, avoid overtaking, not to drive when fatigued or sleepy, taking rest before heading down the road and avoid using the cell phone while behind the wheel.

“The only way to decrease the road injuries is to intensify awareness campaigns. We should study the experiences of other countries that have succeeded in reducing such accidents and apply them to our roads,” he said.

Dr. Badar Al-Masood warned the general public against transporting the injured to hospital and leave this job to the paramedics, especially if the injured suffers from fractures in the neck or back.

“While it is a good gesture to help an injured person and rush him to hospital to save his life, such action could backfire and bring more damage than good and might even cause death or permanent disability to the injured. Only those who have received first-aid training should help the injured,” he said, stressing the importance of not moving the neck of an injured because such action could result in complete paralysis.

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