From being jolted by an electric shock while fixing a trifling computer issue to having a major heart attack or stroke, there is no dearth of medical emergencies that can strike at workplace or elsewhere, with a potential to put your life at risk.
As a matter of fact, such uncalled for medical emergencies cannot be avoided, but certainly most of them can be tackled effectively if a trained first responder takes charge of the situation. A person equipped with first aid skills can make the difference of life and death by, say administering the right cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for a person who has just suffered a cardiac arrest.
British Charity organization St John Ambulance said in 2010 that up to 150,000 people a year may be dying because first aid is not widely enough known for situations like stroke, suffocation, choking, heart attacks or even bleeding.
We do not have a similar data for India, but the lack of acknowledgement of the need of first aid and emergency response skills remains a big worry in the country.
Fortunately, there has been some positive movement in India as far as recognizing the importance of first responder sills is concerned. And the movement has come from the corporate sector, including PSUs and private companies.
Over the past few years, VIVO Healthcare which specializes in providing medical emergency training has trained as many as 10,000 individuals in 175 organizations in 25 cities. In fact, we have been in touch with over 500 companies about the possibility of holding training sessions for their employees, and this shows that people have started talking about the need for creating first responders.
A growing number of companies are showing interest in organizing workshops for their employees to train them in medical emergency response and get first responders onboard.
As a stakeholder in improving healthcare in the country, the response of companies who believe that their employees should be endowed with capabilities sufficient enough to save a life within an organization or outside in case of an emergency, is exceedingly encouraging.
In March when we went to IFFCO’s Paradeep unit to hold a training session, the top officials there were quite appreciative of our endeavor.
In fact, Dr. I. S. Jain, Medical Consultant, IFFCO said the session made them realize that every organization, institution, school and college should have well-trained hands who can take charge of the situation if a medical emergency strikes.
We are conducting the ‘first responder’ training exercises in a series of corporate houses. Over the past three years, we have organized training workshops in a large number of offices and corporate houses that include companies like IFFCO, IOCL, NTPC, GAIL, Hindustan Unilever, Nestle, Philips, Bharti, and HERO Moto Corp among many others.
We are also working with institutions like United Nations and CII.
In 2011, we held training sessions in 42 offices and companies; the number went up to 59 in 2012; and this year by April, we had already visited 50+ companies.
There may be several reasons for this rise in interest among people – increase in awareness about the need is one of them. So is the fact that work-related stress has significantly increased and cases of strokes and heart attacks have also gone up.
VIVO Healthcare also trained tourist guides of Rishikesh at a wilderness first aid training camp. Days after the training, the guides reported an incident in which a member of a tourist group who was rafting in Rishikesh choked on a piece of food. The choking was that bad that the man fainted and even hurt his head. The guides who were fortunately trained were able to bring him back and a tragedy was averted.
Our programme is carefully designed to bring an overall change in employees’ attitude towards medical emergencies and importance of responding in correct way while facing one. When we started introducing our training modules, we were sure of the necessity of such a program in Indian corporate setting and the difference this would bring in ensuring safety of the employees.
The first aid and life support training sessions are targeted for office workers and support staff, factory workers, hotel employees, airport personnel, security personnel and police and railway employees among others.
They are designed to teach lay rescuers how to recognize the warning signs of many critical emergencies i.e. heart attack, a cardiac arrest, stroke and choking in adults and measures to deal with them.
While the response has been fairly good so far, we hope that our endeavor will succeed in plugging the huge gap between the problem and the preparedness in India.