First Aid Deconstructed

A huge congratulations to two of my longest friends (I have known them since 7th and 8th grade) who are starting medical school today! I am so proud. The medical field is lucky to have you!

Ngiyafisa inhlanhla/I wish you luck!

Here is a medically themed post in your honor.

My director recognizes that I perform better when I have my own space (where the pastor is not proving spiritual counseling and children walk in unannounced), and our data room is too small. The plan is to move me out to the current data room and provide more space for our data staff and the eventual social worker/new nurse. In preparation for this change I have been sorting through all the PC paper work and manuals (trust me when you are the 4th PC personnel at an active site, there is a lot). During this process I ran into handouts from the Department of Social Development from crèche or preschool trainings Response Volunteer did. Some of them contained doses of South African Perspective.

I often joke that with an anxiety disorder and autism, my brain is ideal for public health. Prevention and planning for worst case scenarios is never far from my mind. This is especially true when it comes to my adherence to CPR training (even though mine will expire in 2 days…oh PCV problems) and keeping a first aid kit which comes in handy abroad. During my first trip to the Drakensburg, my friend fell on our decent from the Amphitheatere and got a bad sprain on her ankle. I was the only person with a first aid kit, and we were able to pad her foot with the compression tape until she could obtain medical care. Also, my role for two EWB trips was the health and safety office and an accident were to go down it was my role to maintain emergency contacts, medical information, and if needed accompany them to the hospital. Thank goodness nothing did happen everyone’s first aid kit could not handle as the nearest specialized hospitals were 3-5 hours away in the capital and my Spanish is muy malo.

Y’all catch the drift. First aid kits are one of my favourite things.

Anyways, Department of Social Development (DSD) also recognizes the importance of first aid kits. Recently our org received funding to supply crèches with basic needs and I had to do inventory for each crèche. A majority of crèches in our valley do not have first aid kits. While sifting through the needs assessments I found  the Department of Social Development’s exact standards are for first aid kits.

There are actually two lists. The ideal version and the low resource/Improvised version.

Ideal First Aid Kit (with explanations):

  • 2 pairs of latex gloves (or plastic bags)
    For incidents involving blood or bodily fluids
  • 1 pair of household gloves
    For cleaning after blood spills
  • A small plastic bowl
    To hold water and Savlon while cleaning and washing wounds
  • 50 ml of Savlon
    For cleaning and washing wounds
  • 100 ml of household bleach ( to dilute with 10 L of water)
    For blood spills
  • 1 packet of gauze swabs (20)
    For covering large wounds and eye injuries
  • 1 packet of cotton wool (or a roll of toilet paper)
    For cleaning out wounds and covering or compressing wounds
  • Waterproof plasters…aka Band-Aids(20)
    For protecting cuts and scrapes or other breaks in skin. Waterproof dressings must be used if a worker works with food or drinks
  • Safety pins
    To secure, dressings, and slings
  • (or cellotape)
    For securing a dressing
  • 75 mm bandage (or a long strip of material)
    For stopping bleeding, covering wounds, or making a sling
  • One-way resuscitator
    To keep airway open
  • Plastic Bags
    For refuse disposal
  • Scissors
    For cutting plasters, bandages, and material\
  • Tweezers
    For extracting splinters and bee stings
  • Tissues
    For general absorption of liquid

Children who attend crèche are 1-5 years roughly and probably the most accident-prone age range. Most of these materials are in PC First Aid Kit. Since I am a visual learner, here is a rough representation of what these materials look like with the medical kit (and yes I just indirectly called PCVs curious and accident prone preschoolers…that is an accurate description of what it feels like for me bumbling around in a new environment)No one can say that PC does not make the effort to keep us healthy.

Ideal set up plus orange Savlon soap (just to show what it looks like)This is an over prepared medical kit. Actually the one time I became dehydrated thanks to gastrointestinal loveliness, I had to call Medical and they clarified which of the over the counter medications to take. This photo does not incorporate the more adult health care needs, test kits (for malaria…if I venture over the Tropic of Capricorn/into Swaziland), and individual health care needs (acne cream). I know there are HIV positive children in my area who attend crèche, who probably have health needs while they are surrounded by 20 other children with young immune systems. Yes “first aid” tries to address basic needs, but individual health needs have an impact here as well.

Ideal set up plus orange Savlon soap (just to show what it looks like).

This is an over prepared medical kit. Funny story, the one time I became dehydrated thanks to gastrointestinal loveliness, I had to call Medical for clarification which of the over the counter medications to take…even though I paid attention to the medical talks during PST! The above photo does not incorporate the more adult health care needs, test kits (for malaria…if I venture over the Tropic of Capricorn/into Swaziland), and individual health care needs (acne cream). I know there are HIV positive children in my area who attend crèche, who probably have health needs while they are surrounded by 20 other children with young immune systems. Yes “first aid” tries to address basic needs, but individual health needs have an impact here as well.

Based on my obsession with first aid kits, the DSD ideal list is comprehensive. Most children at a crèche will encounter cuts or abrasions (scrapes), and heaven forbid if a child presents with a blocked airway there is a recommendation for a resuscitator. Crèches in urban areas can quickly obtain these materials at their local Clicks, Dis-Chem, or another pharmacy. However the roughly 32 crèches the org supports are rural. In the upper valley, it is very hard to obtain a taxi to Shopping Town especially during rainy season when the dirt roads flood. The two local pharmacies are lovely but very small. I could see them running out of supplies if 32 crèche teachers tried to stock first aid kits simultaneously. Not to mention medical supplies are expensive full stop. Most crèche teachers try to use their limited funds towards meals for the kids.

In order to address the rural factor, DSD also has the….

Improvised First Aid Kit:

  • 2 litre ice cream container
  • Scrap Cotton for dressings
  • Scrap Cotton for bandages
  • Scrap Cotton for triangular Bandages
  • Small pieces of material for nose wipes
  • Scrap material for face cloths
  • Plastic bags to substitute for rubber gloves
  • Litre container (to make re-hydration drink.)
  • Cardboard & padding for rigid splints.

Scrap cotton and material refers to old fabric. DSD knows that people in South Africa’s rural areas are incredibly resourceful, especially the amaZulu. Really the amount of trash I generate compared to my amaZulu family is embarrassing. Last Friday I found out that they melt all the bar soap residue in our house to use as liquid cleaning soap. Yes, those bar soaps from hotels most Americans throw out when they are too small to clean body parts.

Since I am not in the position to rip up an old shirt, here is a rough representation using PC medical supplies and stuff around my side of the house.

Talk about a dose of South African perspective!

Talk about a dose of South African perspective!

On a random note if I and the rest of SA-31 take up ice cream eating for the cause, how many first aid containers could we supply?

First I would have to obtain a freezer.

All the best/Ngikufisela okuhle kodwa,
Katey-Red

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