Five major agencies including St. John Ambulance, Canadian Red Cross, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Canadian Ski Patrol and the Lifesaving Society are implementing improvements to first aid and CPR practices.
Approximately every five years, the five national training agencies get together to review first aid and CPR protocols with the interest of saving lives, reducing injury and making first aid and CPR easier to learn and remember. This year, a national conference was held during the week of February 22nd in Toronto to discuss the life-saving science of first aid and resuscitation using the latest scientific research.
All five national training agencies signed off and put their logo on these new Canadian consensus guidelines. Here are a few of the changes:
- Cuts and abrasions: The recommended way to disinfect a wound is no longer to use soap and water but to rinse a cut under clean running water for five minutes.
- Severe allergic reactions: New guidelines recommend a second dose of epinephrine from an auto-injector pen if there’s no sign of improvement within five to 10 minutes of the first dose.
- Head injuries: When someone receives a blow to the head, they should immediately stop whatever activity they are doing and seek medical aid — even if they’re not displaying symptoms.
- Adults with chest pain: Should chew (not swallow whole) one regular or two low-dose ASA (acetylsalicylic acid) tablets while waiting for emergency medical assistance — except for those with an allergy to ASA or who have bleeding disorders.
- Neck injuries: Application of a cervical collar is no longer recommended because the collars can cause complications. It’s now recommended to manually support a person’s head to prevent movement until medical professionals arrive.
It is important to note, that the past first aid and CPR guidelines were not wrong. However, research has revealed that there are ways we can do things better.
Although Canadians may be confident in handling minor cuts and abrasions, the confidence level drops as the severity of the injury increases. First aid and CPR training, however, significantly improves a person’s confidence. Protocol changes over the years have make it is easier to learn and remember while still keeping to the overall goals of saving lives, reducing further injury and promoting recovery.
Dianne Rende is the Executive Director of St. John Ambulance, Peel Dufferin Branch. As Canada’s leading authority in first aid, St. John Ambulance is dedicated to improving health and safety at work, at home and at play. Dianne can be reached by email at [email protected].sja.ca or for more information visit www.sja.ca.