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The first skill:
Keep it simple


The Nigerian Red Cross Society’s (NRCS) Ghali Bashir Adam is a first responder who has been teaching community members in Nigeria’s volatile north central region first aid since 2005. Every year, the techniques he teaches are updated in refresher courses but, he said, the qualities of a first aider remain the same: He or she must be skillful, confident, composed and patient.

The most important quality, he said, is skill. At a training early this year, Adam was taught how to enhance his students’ skills by simplifying. For example, Adam now teaches fist aiders to quickly assess the level of danger using a colour-coding system and save lives by keeping their patients and themselves out of the line of fire. Resuscitation techniques have also been simplified to include fewer differences between care given to children and adults.

“It didn’t used to be effective because they were confused as to what to do,” he said of the old resuscitation techniques.

First aid methods taught by the NRCS often focus on teaching students how to help their patients the most, with a minimum amount of resources. Burn wounds should be treated with 10 to 15 minutes of water poured on them before covering the wound, and broken bones should be immobilized with an improvised splint — most likely a stick.

Adam said training first aiders inside Nigerian communities that have or may be victims of sectarian violence, militant battles or bomb blasts is a critical part of NRCS operations. When violence erupts, he said, sometimes first responders like him cannot get to the scene.

“There are a lot of casualties and some are dying and there’s no way to help them,” he said. But, when community members are skilled first aiders, “loved ones can save them at home.”






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