Accidents and emergencies can be all the more stressful if they happen while travelling. We’ve been focusing on emergencies related to terrorism, but these tips can be useful in any emergency situation, such as accidents and natural disasters.
Preparation and planning ahead are always your best protection, so make sure you have the appropriate travel insurance for your trip and destination, and that it covers emergency medical care for accidents and injuries, including injuries resulting from terrorism. If you aren’t sure what your policy includes, our guide to understanding a Policy Wording can help to make sense of all the details.
Carry your travel insurance documents with you at all times, as they’ll contain an emergency contact number and details of your Policy and what it covers. Also carry contact details for emergency services in the city or area you’re visiting. Programme these into your mobile phone for easy access.
Learn First Aid
The following information is a guide for those without formal First Aid training, but as the British Red Cross and countless other experts advise, it’s always preferable to have proper training. First Aid courses are widely available and can be invaluable at home, at work, and while travelling.
Find out about First Aid courses in your area here.
What You Can Do
If you or someone else are injured and paramedics/First Aid are not available, follow these simple steps, as outlined by British Red Cross and St John Ambulance:
- Check that it is safe to approach someone – make sure there’s no danger of falling debris if there has been an explosion, or that you won’t be trapped by spreading fire, for example.
- In all emergencies, call local emergency services as soon as possible.
- If someone has fallen from a height or been in a vehicle accident, don’t move them unless you have to.
- Assess the greatest risk:
- Is the person breathing?
- Is there a wound or deep cut / loss of blood?
- Are they in shock?
- Assist until help arrives if you can do so without endangering yourself.
Wounds and bleeding.
- Apply pressure to stop blood flow – use a cloth, or your hands if nothing else is available.
- If the cloth soaks through, don’t remove it but add another cloth if you can.
- Lift the wounded area if possible, e.g. if an arm is injured, raise it above the head to slow down blood flow.
- Continue to apply pressure until help arrives.
- St John Ambulance caution that if there’s an object in the wound (such as a bullet or shrapnel) you should not try to remove it as this can cause more bleeding. Don’t press on the object directly, but apply cloth/dressings around it.
You can view a demonstration on how to stop heavy bleeding in the British Red Cross’s video here.
- Check if the injured person is breathing – place them on their back, with head tilted back slightly to open the airway.
- Check for any obstructions in the mouth or airway.
- If the person is not breathing, begin chest compressions. British Red Cross advise that you should push firmly downward in the middle of the chest.
- Use the heel of your hands, one placed over the other, and keep your arms straight.
- Rate of compressions should be +-100 per minute
- Continue until help arrives
View a CPR video tutorial here.
- Physical shock is very different to emotional shock, and can be life threatening as it means the body does not have sufficient blood flow
- St John Ambulance lists sweating, looking pale, dizziness, a fast and weak pulse, fast and shallow breathing, and unconsciousness as possible signs that someone is in shock. They provide the following guidelines for treatment:
- Lay them down with their head low and legs raised and supported, to increase the flow of blood to their head.
- Call for medical help
- Loosen any tight clothing around the neck, chest and waist to make sure it doesn’t constrict their blood flow
- Fear and pain can make shock worse, by increasing the body’s demand for oxygen, so while you wait for help to arrive, it’s important to keep them comfortable, warm and calm. Do this by covering them with a coat or blanket and comforting and reassuring them
- Keep checking their breathing, pulse and level of response.
- If they lose consciousness at any point, open their airway, check their breathing. If they are not breathing, begin CPR.
In any emergency, it’s important to assess the entire situation to prevent further injuries to yourself and others. Remaining calm will be your biggest help in a difficult spot, so remember to breathe, think clearly, and use your best judgement. Think about enrolling in a First Aid course with friends or family members to improve everyone’s safety wherever you go. Being prepared is your best defence in any emergency.
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