To mark European First Aid Day, National Societies organized first aid campaigns to raise public awareness of first aid and to inform the general public about simple actions which can save lives.
Belgium - Flemish Section:
Under the theme "Simple gestures can make a difference" the Belgian Red Cross campaign for the European First Aid Day was launched by Mr. Herman De Croo, chairman of the Belgian Chamber of Deputies. Mr. De Croo took part in a staged car accident in front of the House of Parliament. He checked the
vital signs of the victim and alerted the medical services. During
interviews with the media he emphasised the importance of first aid in
road safety. Similar first aid demonstrations were organised by the National Society in Antwerp, Bruges, Hasselt and Brussels to show that simple gestures can make a difference and to promote the start of the new season of first aid courses given by the Belgian Red Cross.
On International First Aid Day the Danish Red Cross launched its nationwide Road Safety Campaign. His Royal Highness Prince Joachim is the patron of the campaign and he launched it by demonstrating the Danish Red Cross interactive First Aid CD-Rom on a widescreen.
The campaign's target group are young people between 18 and 24 years old - according to the Danish Road Safety Council this group of youngster has a fivefold higher risk of trafic accidents than the rest of the population.
"Road accidents kill more people in the world than natural disasters. And here we can do something...if more young people learn first aid, many lives can be saved," said Danish Red Cross Secretary General, Joergen Poulsen, at the launch ceremony.
French Red Cross first aid teams are always on the go - even during summer vacation when they are on stand-by on the beaches and during mass events such as concerts. For European First Aid Day, on September 8, hundreds of first aiders - 130 in Paris alone - set up special “initiation” spaces in cities across France, to teach the public basic gestures to save lives. This year, around the theme of road safety, the focus was on prevention and readiness.
The operation had been prepared with great care - thousands of posters and pamphlets had been put up and distributed, to let people know where they could gather to see first aid in action. In Paris, for example, pleasant settings such as Luxembourg Parc had been chosen. It was difficult for passers-by to ignore the demonstrations; thousands of them stopped to look, ask questions and then sign up for a basic initiation to first aid, revealing to many the simple gestures that can help save lives on accident sites or in other crisis situations. In Paris alone, more than 400 people took the course and 600 more were briefed during a total of 70 hours of training dispensed by French Red Cross “secouristes”. Similar exercises took place in more than 50 cities across the country: Roanne, Nice, Dijon, Carcassonne, Thiers, among others. French Red Cross volunteers and staff qualified the day as a great success in the campaign to educate an ever greater segment of the French population to these life-saving techniques.
The Finnish Red Cross organised a grand opening to mark the launch of a year long road safety campaign. A first aid seminar took place in Joensuu in Eastern Finland, on September 7th.Some 260 first aid professionals
gathered to discuss road safety and how to increase people's skills and awareness in first aid. The seminar included also practical training where 200 school children and 200 students learned basic first aid. The Finnish media showed a lot of interest both in the seminar and in the launch of the campaign, which will help raise awareness among the population.
The British Red Cross Society (BRCS) has called for all new drivers to complete first aid training before they can acquire their licence. In a report published earlier this year, entitled "Road Accidents & First Aid", the BRCS argues that simple first aid skills for road users can dramatically reduce the number of casualties in road accidents.
In the UK, there were 320,310 road accident casualties in 1999. Globally, more than 20 million people are injured or disabled in road accidents every year. Young drivers in the UK, aged between 17 and 20, are six times more likely to be involved in collisions causing injuries than drivers over 40.
At the moment first aid is currently only covered in the driving test as one page in the Highway Code. In other European countries - Austria, Germany and Hungary, for instance - first aid training is already mandatory before a driving licence can be granted.The report highlights that the time between an accident and the arrival of the emergency services is the crucial moment for first aid provision. People at the scene must have first aid skills and the confidence to apply them.
Hands-on training through real-life scenarios significantly improves people's ability to use their skills when faced with an accident. Basic first aid skills, which could save lives and significantly lessen injuries, can be learnt in as little as 10 minutes, according to the report.
Anita Kerwin-Nye, BRCS National Officer for First Aid, says: "Within twenty years, road accidents are likely to be the third biggest killer globally. But greater first aid skills among the general public could change that. When casualties receive immediate attention, chances of their survival and of their injuries being less severe are increased dramatically." The BRCS is therefore seeking to develop first aid knowledge and skills among drivers as part of its wider work on teaching first aid skills in the community. The BRCS is already working on developing first aid programmes in schools in coordination with the UK government.
The Icelandic Red Cross has produced a new First Aid Kit for cars; a first sample of the kit was handed over to Iceland's Prime Minister, Mr. Davis Oddson, at a press conference on September 8 - the European First Aid Day. The income from the sale of the kit will be used for First Aid education done by the Icelandic Red Cross in schools.
On the same day, a road safety demonstration was organized by the Icelandic Red Cross and several partners in one of Reykjavik's biggest shopping malls.
This is the first year that the Irish Red Cross takes part in the European First Aid Day.
The Irish Red Cross planned, in conjunction with Unilever, a series of public events in various centres nationwide.
On Friday September 7, the campaign started off in Dublin with a series of simulated accidents and first aid demonstrations. Similar events took place nationwide on Saturday 8, which opened the National First Aid in the Home Day which is an opportunity for everyone to find out more about avoiding getting sick or sustaining an injury and knowing how to treat it if it happens. National First Aid in the Home Day will raise public awareness of first aid and hygiene issues in the home and increase familiarity with basic first aid techniques. It will also raise the profile of the Irish Red Cross at the national level and particularly in the areas involved in this event.
Recent research shows that a vast majority of Irish people are confident about their knowledge of First Aid and are also conscious of the importance of hygiene.
A total of 88 per cent said they know what to do if someone suffered a serious burn, 84 per cent would know how to treat a deep cut, 77 per cent could save a child who was choking and 76 per cent could save an adult who was choking.
Irish women, like their counterparts in Italy and in the UK, are far more likely to take responsibility for home hygiene than men. In all three countries, men admitted that they would rather watch sport on the television than clean their home - although faced with a choice between cleaning and talking to their partner's parents, the vast majority of men in all three countries volunteered to tackle the hoover.
The Norwegian Red Cross held a joint press conference with the Oil company Statoil on September 7th. The Secretary General of the Norwegian Red Cross Sven Mollekleiv opened the event by stressing the importance of first aid. A demonstration car accident was arranged and volunteers from the Oslo branch of the Norwegian Red Cross displayed their first aid skills in a "real" situation. Similar launches were held the next day in 54 different locations across the country.
On the European First Aid Day, the Spanish Red Cross organised several events all over the country to raise awareness of the importance of first aid training. In Spain, 57 percent of the deaths occur in the first minutes after a car crash. 85 percent of the deaths on the road are caused by obstruction of the respiratory tract, which could have been avoided with simple techniques of first aid. Worldwide, traffic accidents cause 700,000 deaths a year and more than ten million people are injured.
Although highway accidents are one of the main causes of death in Spain, first aid knowledge is also crucial at home, in working places and in schools. From Granada in the south, to Bilbao in the north, accident simulations, open door days and training of very simple first aid techniques have been held in order to promote the importance of having a minimum of knowledge on how to assist the injured.
"It is a fact that very simple gestures can save lives," says Dr. Carlos Urkía, First Aid programme co-ordinator. "It is estimated that one out of three people close to us will need hospital treatment at some point in their lives, either because of a road accident or because of an accident in their own home. This is why first aid knowledge is so important," he adds. In its campaign on road security, the Spanish Red Cross has put emphasis on the Basic Action (to protect, to alert and to save lives) as "fortunately part of the solution is in our hands," Dr. Urkía concludes.
The Spanish Red Cross trains 60,000 people in first aid every year.
Three Central American countries, Panama, El Salvador and Guatemala have joined the European First Aid Day campaign. Road accidents in these countries are particularly high during the holiday season. Panama and El Salvador have already started their campaign, while Guatemala will start its campaign in a month.
The Panamanian Red Cross started its first aid campaign on September 8 following the example of the European Red Cross Societies. Two first aid instructors and volunteers from Red Cross Youth visited eight schools which are already working with Red Cross school groups. The schoolchildren learned simple first aid techniques. At the same time, the Panamanian Red Cross organised Red Cross exhibitions in eight shopping malls where it offered First Aid Training Courses with a 40% discount.
The National Society held a press conference focusing on the medico-legal aspects of first aid and on Sports and First Aid. Radio spots focused on Red Cross first aid activities and Red Cross representatives gave numerous interviews to the media.
The Salvadorean Red Cross organised a public campaign to raise awareness of the importance of first aid training and knowledge as a way of saving lives. Various events have been held for members of the local branches of the National Society, in schools, in factories and in open public spaces. where Red Cross volunteers distributed leaflets with first aid advice. The Salvadorean Red Cross have already trained hundreds of volunteers in first aid and these volunteers saved many lives when the devastating earthquakes struck the country in January and February earlier this year.