Monday, 28 May 2012

ON BLASTS AND SAFETY



Dear Kenyan,

I am blogging this on behalf of those more honorable before me and my colleagues helping out at the Kenyatta National Hospital Accident and Emergency department right now. For the three years I have been in medical school, I have come to realize that there is nothing as gruesome to the eye as the sight of human suffering. Health professionals never get used to seeing casualties and the loss of human life. Safety cannot be overemphasized. By the look of things, we are living in perilous times. The year has hardly hit its half mark and several have lost their lives in the unacceptably high number of explosions and terror attacks that have since occurred. Many others have been maimed loosing the ability to live a normal life.

It is unfortunate however, that authorities both local and otherwise seem to be lax on this matter. Many Kenyans are also seemingly unwilling to learn lessons that could help them live another day or help their afflicted colleagues better cope with such unexpected situations. Most of these things can however be avoided by proper enlightenment of the greater population and, by individual and collective responsibility. I take this opportunity therefore to emphasize a few important measures that could help you, esteemed citizen, survive or help out in the event you find yourself in such a situation.

Be vigilant. Scan your environment and ensure that all volatile or explosive utilities are kept in designated areas far from meddlers and other potential triggers. Ensure all faulty sockets and bare wires are repaired. After using cooking gas, ensure that the taps are well closed. Keep an eye out for suspicious looking people when in crowded places.
When the unexpected happens, don’t panic. Act fast and decisively. Find cover, preferably a sturdy non flammable structure. If you can find none, get down: your head between your knees using your hands to cover your head. Do the latter as close to a corner as possible. In case it’s a grenade attack, do it with your head away from the grenade. This will minimize your exposed surface area and keep you safe from any projectiles that come with the blast.

Usually, two waves emanate from blasts; a shock wave and a thermal wave. The latter leaves those around confused and sometimes concussed. Internal bleeding can also occur. Thermal waves can cause burns of varying degrees including inhalational ones. These effects are supplementary to those caused by falling debris and projectiles secondary to the blast.

After a blast, try and re-orientate yourself to assess whether you are trapped or not. Perform a quick self-assessment for any injuries then call for help. If you are ambulant, try and clear from the site as fast as possible. If you are a passer-by, steer clear of the scene. Avoid the temptation to help, collect your property or even loot. Your life, health and safety are worth a lot more. If you must help, do so when you are sure that the worst has passed. Preferably though, let the professionals handle the aftermath. There is always the possibility of a secondary explosion soon after the first.

In case you are called upon to assist, try and stay calm. Knowing that the victims need immediate attention is necessary but being calm and collected while doing can help avert secondary injuries. In transporting the injured to the paramedics, stability of the head neck and spine is vital. A neck brace can be modified from soft cloth as padding with carton paper as reinforcement. If a stretcher is not available, carry the casualties using a hard board or a folded blanket to keep the whole body level. Don’t rush. As mentioned earlier, let the paramedics handle the rest.  

In summary, stay vigilant. When it happens, stay calm, act fast, help if you must and be safe. Lastly, be your brother’s keeper; pass this information to everyone you know.

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