Travelling around the countryside without a good first aid kit? Emergency medical services provider, Netcare 911, is urging travellers to adequately prepare for unexpected injury and illness before hitting the road…
According to Shalen Ramduth, Netcare 911’s general manager national operations, everyone should take a well-stocked first aid kit along for unexpected medical emergencies when travelling. “In a medical emergency a well-stocked first aid kit can make a real difference, as it will serve as an interim resource until professional help arrives. The contents of your first aid kit should also help you in dealing with minor injuries that do not require assistance from healthcare professionals such as paramedics or doctors,” he says.
First Aid Kit Checklist
- 4 packs of sterile gauze
- Adhesive, hypoallergenic tape
- Adhesive bandages in several sizes
- 2 triangular elastic bandages
- Crepe roller bandages – 1 large and 1 small
- Sterile dressings – 2 large and 2 small
- Burnshield dressings of various sizes
- 2 eye pads with bandages
- Pack of sterile cotton wool swabs
- Assorted plasters
- Antiseptic wipes
- Antibiotic cream
- 1 pack of paracetamol tablets and liquid paracetamol
- Rehydration sachets
- Additional supplies of prescription medication (if going away on holiday)
- Sharp scissors
- 6 safety pins
- Face cloth
- 2 pairs of gloves
- Space blanket
- Torch and spare batteries
- List of emergency contact numbers e.g. ambulance, family doctor, paediatrician etc.
Learn to save a life
“Accidents can happen at any time, which is why we always advise individuals to learn first aid skills so that they know what to do in an emergency,” he adds.
“Netcare Education’s Faculty of Emergency and Critical Care offers first aid courses from level one to three to the public. These programmes cover medical, trauma and paediatric emergencies and are also ideal for people dealing with children or the infirm, equipping individuals to provide basic supportive care until healthcare professionals can take over the patient’s management.”
“All South Africans should learn how to do basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), as every minute that CPR is done until paramedics arrive may help save a life – it has been shown internationally that this improves survival rates. Netcare 911’s first aid and CPR courses are particularly valuable for parents, as nothing can be more upsetting than being unable to assist your child if he or she is in distress while you wait for medical assistance to arrive,” asserts Ramduth.
Vulnerability to illness while travelling
According to Ramduth individuals are not only vulnerable to accidents but may also fall ill while on holiday. “Our natural immune system protects us against organisms in our regular environment and we are therefore relatively resistant to these organisms. Away from home and the environment to which our bodies have adapted, we are exposed to different situations and organisms to which we have not previously been exposed and against which we may not have immunity.”
“Some airborne organisms are spread via air conditioning or in closed environments, such as in an aircraft. The drying effect of air conditioning is bad for the health of the mucosal surfaces of the respiratory tract, making our bodies’ defences less effective. A change in routine, with late nights and inadequate sleep and rest, may also affect the immune system. The well-known jet lag can be just as incapacitating as the malaise of flu.”
Ramduth says that gastro-intestinal illnesses are certainly more prevalent amongst holidaymakers and tourists, who may eat exotic and richer foods than their digestive systems are not used to. Travellers are also prone to stomach upsets caused by certain bacteria and other organisms, a condition known as traveller’s diarrhoea.
Watch out for the sun!
Overexposure to the sun during holidays could result in an array of heat-related ailments such as sunburn, heatstroke or heat exhaustion. “Drink enough water, eat regularly, get enough rest, wear sunglasses and a sun hat, use a high sun protection factor (SPF) sunscreen when you do go out, and avoid the sun between 10h00 and 16h00. Also consider that alcohol, as a diuretic, is dehydrating and therefore should be drunk in moderation, if at all,” advises Ramduth.
Get help fast with mySOS
Technology is making it easier to call for assistance in case of an emergency, through a recent partnership between Netcare 911 and mySOS emergency mobile application.
In an emergency, the mySOS app sends an alert to Netcare 911’s national emergency operations centre or other relevant emergency services, as well as to your selected loved ones to show them your global positioning system (GPS) location. The app also makes a phone call to Netcare 911, or the most appropriate service provider for the type of emergency encountered, so that appropriate assistance can be mobilised in the shortest possible time.
The app includes a function that can track you when you are travelling, providing greater safety and peace of mind for both the traveller and their loved ones. If you do not reach your destination within a time limit set by yourself, the app will alert your selected emergency contacts, providing them with your position and a map of the route you took, while continuing to track your location. This potentially lifesaving service is designed to be efficient, as it uses minimal battery power on your phone.
“It is especially annoying to fall ill or sustain an injury while you are on holiday, a time when you most want to be enjoying yourself. It is therefore important to take the appropriate measures to reduce the risk of illness and injury and adequately prepare for unexpected incidents,” concludes Ramduth.