Dear Honorable Ministers and Directors, as the entire nation is almost thrown in alarums and excursions in the dreadlocks saga; kindly indulge me in the prosecution of another delicate matter that bestrides our educational and health sectors.
On May 10, 2018, 3news reported that seven people were feared dead on the Tamale-Yendi road in the Northern Region. The Norwegian Ambassador to Ghana, Mr. Holm, and his consular plying that route had to administer first aid to survivors at the accident scene after hours of failed attempts in reaching the National Ambulance Service.
The aforementioned intervention as divine as may be conceived lends credence to the maxim that safety does not happen by accident. And accidents by their nature do not announce themselves for preemptive measure. That notwithstanding, knowledge and awareness of first aid helps avert our minds to the possibility of any eventualities and essentially convert citizens from being mere spectators to proactive attendants.
First Aid Skills is a sine qua non especially in our unique situation where ambulances delay owing to traffic congestion, poor road network and road accidents remaining unbridled. Whilst the nation strives to route all emergencies through a synchronized command center, knowledge of first aid presents an opportunity for providing immediate assistance prior to actual medical care.
Perusing the National Pre-tertiary education curriculum framework for developing subject curriculum, I observed an oversight by the committee in the remit of including first aid training. Gleaning from a publication in the Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine Bollig et al piloted the effect of first aid training amongst pupils (4-5 year olds) in kindergarten. Their conclusion was instructive in that, they observed that children could learn basic first aid at this level. They thus recommended that first aid training should start at the kindergarten stage.
In England and other jurisdictions, there exist guidance on First Aid For Schools. Other schools are enjoined by health and safety legislations to have at a minimum health and safety policies.
First Aid Proficiency may include how to response to patients suffering asthmatic attacks or seizures, bleeding, choking, allergic reactions, unconsciousness, fainting, how to recognize a stroke, responding to snake bites, resuscitation, among others. Whilst this initiative may appear capital intensive in a time where world economies are dire straits, the Health and Education may consider partnering with the National Ambulance Service, Rotary clubs, St. John International, Parent Teacher Associations, religious groups, and other associations to deliver this essential public good. Implementation may be phased right from the kindergarten to the tertiary level where it becomes a required course for graduation.
Positive outcomes from a plethora of research publications on the inclusion of first aid programs in schools makes a good case worth considering. Safety which hitherto was left to chance will now be tackled head-on. Incorporating First Aid programs in schools present Ghanaians an opportunity to actively participate in our collective health and safety.
Written by Reginald Sekyi-Brown, Pharmacist.