We’ve come a long way from the wooden splints and triangular bandages that were the backbone of first aid care a century ago. Now with advances in, and miniaturisation of technology, the average citizen is able to perform procedures that were once the reserve of trained medical staff.
From the TV to the Office
Most of us were first introduced to defibrillators by watching hospital dramas or reality emergency shows on TV and we watched them in awe. Now Automated Electronic Defibrillator (AED) devices are commonplace in workplaces, shopping malls, train stations – and any public place. Our office first aiders and fire wardens are trained to use them, though they come with sticky pads, which attach to the patient’s body so the first aider does not need to apply the electric shock directly, and such easy-to-understand instructions that just about anybody can use them.
In addition, the latest AEDs do more than just deliver an electric shock, they can also give feedback on the rate and depth of cardiac compressions needed for the patient, when to pause and resume compressions and when a shock needs to be delivered.
The miniaturisation of defibrillators has not only made them easier to use, but also very mobile. In Germany, there are now ambulance drones that can fly an AED and medical supplies to an incident ahead of an ambulance. Because they can fly above traffic and are dispatched from a network of stations they are able to get to a scene within one minute anywhere in a 12km-square area. The drones also carry two-way radios so that medical staff can talk to people at the scene when the drone arrives and talk them through what to do until the ambulance arrives.
First Aid Information in Your Pocket
There are many stories of someone saving a person’s life after having seen it done on a TV show or reading about it in a book. You don’t have to be a trained first aider to be able to save a life as long as you can access the right information. And mobile phones can provide access. With apps like GotoAID, Pocket First Aid and First Aid by American Red Cross, there is a wealth of first aid information available at our fingertips.
A Smart First Aid Kit
A problem many workplaces experience in maintaining their first aid kit supplies. Very often no one is in charge of stocking the kit and when an incident occurs there may be first aiders on hand to help, but the supplies they need are lacking. A New Zealand company has come up with a solution. Clever MedkitTM is a first aid kit that is fitted with sensors, a camera and a SIM card which record what supplies are used, who used them (by taking a photo of whoever opens the cabinet, sends alerts when supplies are low and can even suggest which supplies to use when options are selected by the user.
Thanks to continuing developments in technology, first aid is becoming simpler to deliver, simpler to manage, and allowing more of us to help in a crisis and more lives to be saved.