September 15, 2019
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    First Aid Saves Lives

    September 14, 2019

    Today is World First Aid Day
    World First Aid Day is celebrated in over 190 countries around the world on the second Saturday of September annually, since it was introduced by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the year of 2000. This year’s world First Aid Day which falls today (14) which will be under the theme “Addressing Exclusion through First Aid” can be considered as one of the most important days for the First Aiders, First Aid Trainers, General Public, Members of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and other personnel engaged in First Aid and Humanitarian Services; who respond immediately right after an emergency situation around the globe in catering for the needs of victims to save their lives.

    Through this article it is expected to make you understand the importance of First Aid as one of the most precious Life Skills which could be used immensely in saving lives in emergency situations. If the seed of neediness of learning first aid and the keenness in practicing the learnt first aid in day-to-day life is planted in you through this article, it would be a major accomplishment of this year’s World First Aid Day.

    Founding of the Red Cross and First Aid Services

    The Red Cross and Red Crescent movement which currently serves in 191 countries around the world with over 100 million volunteers, officers and members who work in an impartial and neutral manner in every aspect was established due to a disastrous incident that occurred in a battlefield in Northern Italy 160 years ago. On June 24, 1859, Jean Hendry Dunant; a young Swiss businessman was crossing the Solfareno Battlefield in Northern Italy.

    He was shocked and devastated by the scenes of over forty thousand soldiers who were severely wounded and struggling in their deathbeds, starving without food for several days, dying in thirst and killed brutally with no mercy. This young Swiss businessman started to treat the wounded soldiers in both parties of the war with the help of the women and the civilians of the area with no discrimination in gender, age, nationality, politics, skin tone, religion or even cast. He also led them into other necessary processes such as message transferences, temporary hospital constructions and even assuring the health of war prisoners.

    Through the book Memories of Solfarino which was written by Henry Dunant and published in the year of 1862 which was compiled with the experiences of the Solfarino war, paved the way to form the Red Cross movement which was initiated by forming the International Committee of Red Cross in 1863. Also, this book impacted in planting the seeds for the Geneva Conventions in 1864, which is a major consideration in modern day humanitarian law. The number of lives saved through the establishment of the Red Cross and implementation of these Geneva Conventions are undoubtedly numerous.

    Victims of natural disasters which destroyed the lives of millions, first and second world wars and other hundreds of civil wars during the past 150 years, victims of road accidents, communicable diseases and other victims of man-made disasters who are both directly and indirectly affected will stand in evidence of the services done by Red Cross movement in uplifting their lives for a better life. Hundreds of thousands of our volunteers and workers around the globe working day and night are politely proud of their service on making the world a better place for living.

    Importance of First Aid in General

    With the gradual increase in the number of natural disasters in the world the need of humanitarian services have hiked than as it was in 1859. The loss of millions of lives annually, sufferings and pains of helpless, insufficient and improper resources and facilities with a proper standard to respond for such occasions have escalated the need of these humanitarian services. Therefore, first aid skills should be learnt and practised by everyone which can be used in aiding and securing millions of lives with simple acts.

    There is no need of a proper prior educational background to learn and enhance first aid skills. Hence, it is easy and important to acquire these first aid skills by everyone. But if a person is not equipped with proper first aid skills and if he tries to help out a person in need during an emergency situation, it could put the life of that victim in danger. With the pure intention of helping the victims in road accidents, people do drag and carry the victims out of the vehicles and transport them to the nearest hospital immediately without a proper inspection and emergency help. On most occasions, these victims are taken to hospitals in three-wheelers and as a whole; which can result in the situation getting worse.

    If you train and become competent in First Aid techniques it will surely become the most precious skill of your life since you can help others with confidence; your own family members, neighbours, friends and any other victim you come across in an emergency situation. You gain the competency of saving a precious life of a person by performing some simple techniques.

    First Aid can be considered as a temporary form of help given to a wounded or unwell victim in an emergency situation using the available resources in the surroundings in an accepted mode of execution until the victim is given proper medical treatment. It can be also define as a scientific and technical series of acts which can be performed to save a life. Though these skills are not complex, it is identified as an important life skill since in some instances where the by standards claim that a person is not breathing and dead, those lives can be brought back to breathing condition with the use of proper first aid techniques.

    Importance of First Aid for Sri Lanka

    First Aid is important for all developed and underdeveloped countries. Countries such as Norway, England, France and Australia with excellent health care, emergency response and ambulance services have a percentage of more than 95% of people knowing these lifesaving basic First Aid techniques. Continuous programmes with high quality and standard are conducted and monitored to spread these lifesaving first aid techniques within the public.

    There are plenty of reasons why First Aid is important to our country. According to the studies, approximately 38 lives are lost daily due to road accidents and it is calculated as 14,000 per annum. Out of those deaths, 10,000 are reportedly dead before the hospitalization. Millions of people are hospitalized annually due to both major and minor accidents in day-to-day life. Around 15,000 deaths are due to heart-attacks, 1,300 deaths are by drowning, 3,000 suicides and many more deaths are reportedly occurring annually. Domestic poisonings, choking, burns, snake bites, strains and sprains, electrocution, industrial accidents and other bone fractures are some situations which have caused thousands of deaths due to late and improper hospitalizations.

    It has been calculated that a child death is occurs every fifteen hours from some sort of an accident. It reportedly extends upto 12 children per week, 50 children per month and 600 children per year. A child is hospitalized every two minutes for any cause and it extends upto 31 child hospitalizations per hour, 740 per month and 270,000 annually (Ref: Lady Ridgeway Hospital).

    Reasons behind these are reported as dog bites, bone fractures, poisoning, choking, burns, drowning, road accidents, snake bites and other illnesses. Importance of fist aid arises in these situations. Hence, we should learn First Aid before an incident occurs. If your First Aid is thorough it could save the life of the victim. Similarly if your First Aid knowledge is poor, it could make the condition of the victim worse and may even lead to death.

    In general, time taken to transport a patient from the scene of an accident to a hospital to provide proper medical treatment varies between 10 to 60 minutes. The actions and steps that can be taken by a first aider during this time span leads to decide the death or the life of the victim. News on choking in children and infants are reported daily even though their parents/ elders are along with them. A few seconds of negligence can be dangerous and lead to death. But with proper acts of first aid those valuable lives of children can be easily saved.

    Emergency First Aid provided during the time a victim is transported to a hospital has led to the preserving of life, preventing the condition getting worse and even promoting the recovery process in most of the reported cases. This highlights the importance of knowing First Aid by everyone and can be used in every house, office, school, workshops or even roads.

    If the breathing stops in an emergency, the victim may die within the first 5 to 10 minutes. If the victim has lost consciousness but still breathes, then his tongue may roll back blocking the airway leading to a chocking condition. However, by the simple act of “Heal Tilt – Chin Lift” and then transporting to the hospital in that same position of the unconscious breathing victim, life can be saved easily. These techniques are taught in a very simple manner in First Aid.

    “Addressing Exclusion through First Aid”

    Theme of this year’s World First Aid Day is “Addressing Exclusion through first aid”. An excluded group of people or a person can be considered as a person with less opportunity to reach a specific place, general society, facilities and also treated with less consideration and negligence by the society. These kinds of excluded groups can be found in any region, any country or any social state. Women, girls, senior citizens, prisoners, Aids/STD victims, children in streets or in labour work, children and youth in orphanages, transgendered personals, disputed people due to wars and natural disasters, labour, people of minor communities and races etc. can become neglected and discriminated by the modern day society depending on the social status of a region.

    These socially excluded groups can be given the recognition of society despite their social strata and state by making them learn and competent in first aid and also making them engaged in social work and fulfill the need of humanitarian services through Red Cross as our volunteers or members.

    Different programmes are being setup to commemorate World First Aid Day all around the country through the vast humanitarian volunteer and member network of Sri Lanka Red Cross Society which itself is made up with twenty five branches having each branch at each district. Since the establishment of Sri Lanka Red Cross Society in 1936, it has been serving the country for past 83 years in all disasters by its well reputed first aid services and other humanitarian assistance services. First Aid training and services are launched not only during disasters and emergency situations but also in other days of peace. Through these, Sri Lanka Red Cross Society was able to build the capacities of the society paving the way to preserve more lives from untimely deaths. Sri Lanka Red Cross Society also plays the prominent role of providing the best and well monitored first aid trainings with the British Standards in which successful participants are awarded with internationally recognized certificates.

    The studies made by different organisations and the way people response to day-to-day accidents and emergency situations depicts that the knowledge and the practice of first aid in general public is very low in Sri Lanka. Therefore, a few steps can be taken to ensure that everyone can gain the benefits of knowing First Aid as in other well-developed countries. Being trained and ready with first aid skills today itself without delaying, making first aid education compulsory in schools, making it compulsory to have a first aid training to get or renew a driving license, providing first aid trainings for every institute and updating the trainees as required, introducing a first aid law in Sri Lanka are some of the key measures to be taken for safeguarding the lives of the people in emergencies.

    Highlighting the importance of tackling climate change and its impact on Sri Lanka, UN Resident Coordinator Hanaa Singer said living standards in Sri Lanka can drop by five to seven per cent because of climate-related vulnerabilities.Speaking at the 2019 AIESEC YouthSpeak Forum – “Transforming Youth, Transforming Sri Lanka”, Ms. Singer said about 19 million people in Sri Lanka live in locations that will become moderate or severe climate hotspots by 2050.“The country has faced continuous cycles of floods and drought, making it one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. The future is dependent on taking action on these issues now because living standards in Sri Lanka can drop by five to seven per cent because of climate-related vulnerabilities,” she said.

    She said she was pleased to recognise that Sri Lanka has taken great strides in allowing private and domestic sector investments in renewable energy and tapping, the last vestiges of hydropower available to the country.“As young Sri Lankans, you need to take your place in the conversation on climate change, it is absolutely vital. You must advocate for an economy that results in improved human well-being and social equity and at the same time significantly reduce environmental risks and ecological scarcities. This is what we call the green economy and it is the future! The green economy fosters prosperity, creates decent work, and protects the planet for our generation and the generations to come,” she said.

    Excerpts of the speech are below:

    Here in Sri Lanka I am convinced of the power of young people to make a change in their world.

    Why do I say this?

    Because as I travel all over Sri Lanka, I have met so many caring, smart and motivated young people who are making an impact on their communities.

    One such outstanding young advocate from Bentota was appointed the UN Secretary General’s Youth Envoy, Jayathma Wickramanayake. I believe all of you in this room have the power to shape the world you want to live in.

    Today young people have immense potential to be impactful agents of change – because of the opportunities that technology provides. You are interconnected with your peers around the world, like no generation before you. Therefore, the opportunity to exchange ideas, organize yourselves and mobilize for important causes is immense.

    I urge all of you to take advantage of this moment and utilize technology to make a difference in the world today, to shape the future you want.

    History has shown us that social movements thrive when young people take the lead because they are impressive catalysts for change. If you look at the civil rights movement in the United States, it is young people who called for the desegregation of schools, voter rights, civil rights legislation and challenged racism.

    This started a movement of “good trouble” – fearless non-violent agitation designed to provoke, challenge, and move progress forward.

    In this region, millions of young people are engaged in the fight for every child’s right to go to school, and to do so in safety. In India, the Global March Against Child Labour has mobilized hundreds of thousands of young people, who have walked millions of miles demanding an end to child labour and the right to go to school.

    In 2012, the world heard the story of Malala Yousafzai, who spoke out publicly on behalf of girls and their right to learn. Her words were ‘One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world’ and she inspired the world.

    Now, it is time for all of you to act and address the defining issue of our time – climate change.

    Children and young people represent 30 percent of the world’s population. They represent the largest group of people currently affected by climate change and young people are also more vulnerable than adults to its harmful effects.

    It is your generation and future generations that will have to deal with the future impacts of climate change, and you are the generation with the most to lose. You must lead the charge on this front and take bold steps to secure your future.

    Last year Greta Thunberg from Sweden was just 15 years old when she began to protest inaction on climate change. Within months she mobilised support and urged immediate action from business leaders at the World Economic Forum. This year she sailed across the Atlantic to draw attention to the cause.

    We as the UN are proving the platform for activists such as Greta, to make their voices heard.

    For example, we are hosting the Youth Climate Summit in New York on the 21st of September which brings together young activists, innovators, entrepreneurs, and change-makers who are committed to combating climate change. Over 7000 young people will attend. The results of the Youth Climate Summit will be presented at the Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit two days later, on 23rd September.

    The Secretary General’s Summit will call on leaders from government, business and civil society to boost efforts to tackle climate change. They are expected to agree on bold actions and concrete plans for carbon neutrality by 2050. Solutions in the areas of energy transition, climate finance, and carbon pricing, industry transition and nature-based solutions will be discussed.

    These efforts cannot succeed unless young leaders from all over the world take their rightful place and drive positive climate solutions.

    Turning to Sri Lanka, I am pleased to recognize that the country has taken great strides in allowing private and domestic sector investments in renewable energy and tapping, the last vestiges of hydro power available to the country.

    However, much more needs to be done.

    About 19 million people in Sri Lanka live in locations that will become moderate or severe climate hotspots by 2050. The country has faced continuous cycles of floods and drought, making it one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change.

    The future is dependent on taking action on these issues now, because living standards in Sri Lanka can drop by 5 to 7 per cent because of climate-related vulnerabilities.

    As young Sri Lankans, you need to take your place in the conversation on climate change, it is absolutely vital. You must advocate for an economy that results in improved human well-being and social equity and at the same time significantly reduced environmental risks and ecological scarcities.

    This is what we call the green economy and it is the future! The Green Economy fosters prosperity, creates decent work, and protects the planet for our generation and the generations to come.

    Here in Sri Lanka the UN is working with the Government to explore the potential of renewable energy, looking at ways that energy and other resources are used more efficiently in production and consumption and supporting the modernization of the environmental management systems. At the same time, we are working with Sri Lankans to protect the biodiversity that this country has been blessed with. An important part of our work and the work for Sri Lankans is fostering climate resilient livelihoods, to ensure that future opportunities are safeguarded.

    In tackling climate change, it is important to keep in mind that investments in development and climate resilience go hand in hand. More governments, cities and businesses than ever understand that climate solutions strengthen our economies and protect our environment at the same time.

    As we call on governments and businesses to make the large-scale changes needed to mitigate the risks of climate change, we must also be aware of the impact our everyday actions have on our environment.

    An ongoing conversation is the use of single use plastics.

    We all know that plastic pollution in the ocean is detrimental to marine wildlife, to the planet and to humans. Our everyday consumption and the demand we create by using plastics, contributes to this harm and degradation.

    Again, I know that Sri Lankans are making strides towards more responsible production and consumption, for example in the apparel industry. Last month when I attended Colombo Fashion Week, I was glad to see the number of ethically produced and sustainable brands that were being showcased. As one of Sri Lanka’s highest export revenue earners, it was encouraging to see that the garment industry was doing its part.

    Sustainable production and consumption encompass social issues, such as improvements in working conditions and remuneration for workers, as well as environmental ones, including the reduction of waste, water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

    Climate action and responsible production and consumption are only two of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in which young people can make a difference. The Goals are our blueprint for fair and sustainable pathway to development that leaves no one behind.

    Their powerful message is that no matter where you are born, no matter how marginalized your community may be – the world is determined to carry everyone along on our journey to a better and more equitable future.

    But, the 2030 Agenda is much more than a framework; it is a concrete plan for policies that can improve the lives of hundreds of millions of women, girls, men and boys around the world.

    However, the world is not keeping pace. We face serious challenges and evolving risks. This is why we need young people like yourselves to take action, to join together and mobilise yourselves and mobilize society, to make a difference.

    I will end by echoing the words of the Youth Envoy Jayathma, ‘Act now, speak up, and stand up for your rights and your ideas. Demand to have a seat at the table, don’t wait for an invitation’.

    I know that all of you can go out into the world and shape the future you want to see. Be champions for climate action, for responsible economies and for building an inclusive future – a future that will leave no one behind.

    Sri Lanka’s national commitment and resolve to make continued progress towards reconciliation, development and protection and promotion of human rights remain strong despite constraints, the country told the UN Human Rights Council.Deputy Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN, Dayani Mendis said thus making a statement to the ongoing 42nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

    The Anuradhapura Archaeology museum was re-opened by United States Ambassador Alaina B. Teplitz on Thursday after renovation for which the United States has granted financial aid worth Rs. 24.2 million.Addressing the gathering at the inauguration the Ambassador Alaina B. Teplitz emphasised that she marvelled at the ancient stupas, shrines and other cultural monuments of great historical and archaeological value throughout the Sri Lanka, indicating the country’s rich cultural and religious history. She pointed out that preserving this history would ensure that young Sri Lankans stay true to their glorious past and the visitors from all over the world could better understand today’s Sri Lanka by experiencing its past.

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