When Emergencies Strike

By Pebbles Mendoza


Do you know what to do in case of health emergencies. As everyone says, you never know when disaster might strike. It could take place at work, outdoors, or right inside the home. But if every Filipino knows how to handle health emergency-related issues, the likelihood of victim survival gets ever higher.


Accidents and Health Emergencies in the Philippines

Injuries and accidents inside and outside the home are considered a significant public health problem in our country. Even though we continue to try and maintain health and safety standards in building our homes, workplaces, and communities, there are still occasions when the unthinkable happens. It requires a comprehensive effort from multiple sectors and disciplines to maintain public health, and it starts from the ground level.


Everyone needs to be aware of first aid and emergency treatments if accidents or health incidents happen. It’s not about preparing medical personnel, armed forces, and other emergency personnel about procedures; everyday citizens must also have the right knowledge. Even before an ambulance arrives, there are still quite a few things that even the regular bystander can do which could significantly impact the victim’s survival.


What Can We Do?

Knowledge is power in the field of health emergency preparedness. By knowing what to expect and what could happen, we can correctly prepare for it no matter where we are. Here are some vital Health Emergency reminders for every Filipino:


1. Keep a First Aid Kit Everywhere

As the Boy and Girl Scouts of the Philippines always say, you must always “be prepared.” Homes, establishments, schools, public places, and offices need to have a first aid kit at hand, adequately stocked and sanitized for use at any moment. A proper first aid kit should at least have:

  • Wound dressing, gauzes, and bandages

  • Alcohol pads and wipes

  • Iodine or iodine wipes, and other disinfectants

  • Band-aids and medical tape

  • Tweezers, scissors, pins, syringe, sterile needles, and other tools

  • Epinephrine pen

  • Antibiotic creams and ointments

  • Pain management medication, like ibuprofen and paracetamol

  • Ice packs or heat packs

With all these at hand, any area would be ready in case of medical emergencies or injuries. Ensure that all members of the household or employees are aware of first aid kit’s location and that it is easily accessible for critical moments.


2. Basic First Aid Training for Everyone is a Must

A kit is only as useful as someone who knows how to use it. If possible, have the whole family, classroom, or employee pool partake in basic first aid training. The training allows them to determine immediately when a health emergency is taking place and what to do about it. Many first aid training programs will explain how to use a first aid kit, how to dress wounds, how to perform CPR, the Heimlich maneuver, and more.


Both adults and children need to be able to know these practices to employ them if required. Numerous training courses are available, even ones that specialize in pediatric first aid, which is excellent for parents and teachers. Children need to be aware of the very basics, and that includes using 911. They need to know when to call it, and what to do, so they can act in case their parents cannot, or they find themselves in an emergency.


3. Allergies must be Taken Seriously

It’s common for Filipinos to joke about how they can eat just about anything, but the issue of allergies is no laughing matter. Allergic reactions can range from itching and hives to full-blown anaphylactic shock, which can lead a victim to die within minutes.


It’s recommended that individuals take allergy panels to check for adverse reactions to particular food, material, or even medication. This way, everyone knows what they should avoid and be able to tell medical personnel which drug they have adverse reactions to. Should an individual find themselves in the grip of an allergic reaction, they need to take an antihistamine for relief. In the event of an anaphylactic shock, things can get serious very quickly. When an epinephrine pen in a first aid kit is available, inject it into the allergy sufferer and bring them immediately to an emergency room.


4. Know the Definition of Triage

In case of a severe accident with multiple injuries, knowing triage will help even bystanders determine who needs to attention first. Knowing who needs the most help at the soonest time can potentially save the victim’s life. Here are the important distinctions:


  • Emergent – This refers to patients that have life-threatening injuries or disease. They need aggressive and immediate treatment. These involve but are not limited to: cardiac arrest, seizures, unconsciousness, chemical exposure to the eyes and suicidal feelings. These are the patients that need the most care and should be addressed first in an emergency. Emergent patients must be helped as much as possible at the scene before being given priority for medical responders.

  • Urgent – The patient’s health problems are significant and can be life-threatening or disabling if it progresses. These involve patients in active labor, injuries with deformities in the upper extremity and diarrhea, among others. These are next in the priority line. They might not necessarily, however, need emergency services. Some hospitals now have Urgent Care areas to address them.

  • Non-Urgent – These are the patients that are generally stable in their condition but need some medical assistance. They can be addressed through first aid-kits onsite and can be assisted safely to hospitals, if required, without emergency personnel. These involve lacerations, punctures, constipation and minor bites, among others.

These are just some of the many ways by which Filipinos can make themselves better informed about how to handle health emergencies. Knowing what to do, when to do it, and maintaining a cool head in case of emergency is vital. Together, everyone does their part to preserve public health.


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