6 basic First Aid health care most Ghanaians get wrong

Usually in an accident a lot of poor options are thrown about and if the victim is not lucky he/she may end up in an even worse situation.


Just like every Ghanaian is a footballer and a coach, every Ghanaian is a doctor and a pharmacist. Usually in an accident a lot of poor options are thrown about and if the victim is not lucky he/she may end up in an even worse situation. It is an unfortunate truth, but most Ghanaians are clueless when it comes to giving first aid. What do you do when someone cuts themselves, gets a burn, drinks poison or faints? Here is how we get it wrong and what we should do instead.

1. A bleeding Cut 

What we do: Look for water and try to wash the blood off. This may sound like a reasonable thing to do but constantly running water over the cut will prevent the blood from clotting thereby causing continuous bleeding.

What you should do: First press firmly over the site with a clean cloth for about 3 to 15 minutes until it stops. You can then clean under lukewarm running water and gently pat dry. If a cut is dirty or was caused by an animal scratch, rinse it with water and gently lather with soap. If it is an animal bite that has caused a deep cut take it to the hospital immediately. If you can't control the bleeding after several attempts with direct pressure rush to hospital. If a large piece of skin has been removed, wrap it in a clean, moist cloth and place it in a bag over ice -- a doctor may be able to reattach it. In a situation where the skin is broken but you are able to control the bleeding, apply a thin layer of an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment (like Neosporin or Bacitracin), then cover with a plaster.

2. Minor Burn

What we do: Rub our hands over it or apply Vaseline. Apply Vaseline is not a bad idea but that is not the first thing you should do. Rubbing a burn with your hand can only make it worse.

What you should do: Immediately hold the burn under cool (not cold) running water for 10 to 15 minutes to soothe the pain. It you got burnt on your fingers remove rings or other tight items from the burned area. Try to do this quickly and gently, before the area swells. If blisters appear in day or two, don’t pop them, let the skin break by itself and apply an anti-biotic cream and cover the area with a bandage or gauze and tape until it's healed. Also be on a look out for any swelling, tenderness, or discharge, these are signs of infection.

3. Major Burn

What we do: Stand there and talk about how bad it looks. We mention the name of Jesus and let our shock play out in a full scale dramatic performance. Oh my God oh my God!!!! How did this happen.

What you should do: Call an ambulance! And if there are no ambulances, you need figure out the safest way of transporting the burnt person. Until help arrives, take these actions: Protect the burned person from further harm. If you can do so safely, make sure the person you're helping is not in contact with smouldering materials or exposed to smoke or heat. But don't remove burned clothing stuck to the skin. Check for signs of circulation. Look for breathing, coughing or movement. Begin CPR if needed. Remove jewellery, belts and other restrictive items, especially from around burned areas and the neck. Burned areas swell rapidly. Don't immerse large severe burns in cold water. Doing so could cause a serious loss of body heat (hypothermia) or a drop in blood pressure and decreased blood flow. Elevate the burned area. Raise the wound above heart level, if possible. Cover the area of the burn. Use a cool, moist, bandage or a clean cloth.

4. Splinter or Glass

What we do: Force the splinter out with our hands, a blade and all sorts of things. Most of the time we end up pushing it deeper into the skin.

What we should do: Use soap and water to wash around the splinter. Clean a pair of tweezers with rubbing alcohol and slowly pull the splinter out. Wash the skin again. When a splinter is hard to remove, leave it for a day or so to see whether it comes out on its own. If your child steps on a piece of glass, and it's not a single shard you can easily remove, gently wrap a clean cloth around the area and go to the E.R. Ask your doctor about an X-ray even if you think you've gotten the glass out; scans often find shards that can lead to infection.  If the splinter isn't out after a few days or is causing you pain, turning red, or has pus, see your doctor to have it removed safely.

5. Faint 

What we do: Surround the person and make it harder for them to breath, then we throw water on them like we are watering a plant.

What we should do: Position the person on his or her back. If the person is breathing, restore blood flow to the brain by raising the person's legs above heart level — about 12 inches. Loosen belts, collars or other constrictive clothing. To reduce the chance of fainting again, don't get the person up too quickly. If the person doesn't regain consciousness within one minute, rush them to the hospital. Check the person's airway to be sure it's clear. Watch for vomiting. Check for signs of circulation (breathing, coughing or movement). If absent, begin CPR. Continue CPR until you get to the hospital or the person responds and begins to breathe.

6. Poison 

What we do: Make them drink palm oil. Even if your grandfather swears that palm oil neutralizes poison please don’t give to someone who has just eaten or drunk poison.

What we should do: Rush the person to the hospital, let a doctor handle this.


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