Emergency First Aid in Boquete: Safety doesn’t take a vacation

Blog by Joy Huppe


Emergency First Aid. It isn’t the first thing you think of when you are on vacation, and in all honesty, it usually doesn’t hit one’s radar at all. However, experienced travelers know that accidents and injuries can occur at any time, regardless of well-laid plans. Thankfully, we have not experienced a health-related emergency at Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast, but that didn’t stop us from being prepared… just in case.

In order to be ready for a crisis situation, the ‘Casa staff’ recently participated in a First Aid workshop. Though we all came from varying backgrounds of prior first-aid education, each of us walked away with new knowledge and a desire to remind others how vitally important this information is.

First aid can be defined as the initial care given by a responder with little equipment to someone who is injured or suddenly ill until professional emergency medical treatment becomes available. When disaster strikes, every second counts. There is no time to reach for an instruction manual or enter queries into a search-engine. Working knowledge of first aid can literally be the difference between life and death. Yet studies show that more than half of those polled (59%) would not feel confident enough to try and save a life, and almost a quarter (24%) of responders would do nothing but wait for an ambulance to arrive or hope that another passer-by would take charge. The result? Thousands of people continue to die each year from lack of first aid in situations where it could have been prevented.

Worker: 'QUICK, does anybody here know First Aid?!' / Worker: 'Yeah, him.'

It is no laughing matter. First aid SAVES lives!

First aid has three main aims: preserve life, prevent deterioration, and promote recovery. The first aim of preserving life is carried out by emergency first aid procedures such as opening the airway of a choking victim, performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on a cardiac arrest victim, or applying direct pressure to a wound. Once a person is stabilized, the second aim is to prevent the victim’s condition from deteriorating further. This could include, for example, asking a person who has fallen and sustained injury to stay still to prevent movement of possible fractures. Lastly, recovery can be promoted by arranging prompt emergency medical help. Additionally, simple first aid can significantly affect the long-term recovery of an injury. For example, quickly cooling a burn will reduce the risk of long-term scarring.

While the core tenants of first aid have remained more or less the same over the past 100 years, the instruction and method of such continues to evolve. Every five years research and current practices are consolidated and reviewed, oftentimes resulting in new, more effective procedures. One of these new developments is “Hands Only” CPR.

Many of us who have previous first aid instruction may remember learning CPR that utilizes mouth-to-mouth breathing in conjunction with chest compressions. Now, however, CPR is being taught without the use of rescue breaths.  This change is due to the finding that untrained bystanders are not acting in emergency situations because they are afraid of possible contamination and/or they are worried about crossing a social barrier. Hands-only CPR removes these obstacles, making it even easier to save lives.


Good advice for those untrained in traditional CPR

It is important to note that if one is already skilled in administering rescues breaths, it is advised to continue with that technique, as it is preferable over compression alone. However, for those who are untrained, taking action via chest compressions is better than doing nothing at all. It has been found that in most cases the victim still has oxygen in the lungs and blood, so chest compression will keep this oxygenated blood flowing to the brain, heart and other organs for a limited time (approximately five minutes.) The exceptions are when the victim has had a breathing failure (ie, drowning) or if the victim is a child.

To simplify the life-saving process of CPR even more, the American Heart Association (AHA) has come up with an easy way to keep the rhythm when performing chest compressions. Fittingly, the song they suggest is the catchy disco classic “Staying Alive.”   For more information, visit the AHA website by clicking here. Or, if you prefer watching firemen (and who doesn’t?), check out the “firemen flash mob” demonstration of the proper beat in the following video:

It is important to note, here in Boquete there is no “9-1-1” service. To summon an ambulance you may call the Alto al Crimen Hotline at 6477-6662. It is recommended to save this number in your cell phone under “AAAAA” so it is the first number in your contact list, as time is of the essence in an emergency situation.   For more information on available emergency / treatment options, you may read this relevant article.  If you are in need of follow-up care, additional medical resources can be found listed here.

If you are interested in learning First Aid, we highly encourage you to enroll in a training class in your locality. In Boquete we recommend contacting local educator Brandy. (Just ask us and we’ll put you in touch with her.)

Do you have a rescue experience to share? Come on down and visit us. As always, we look forward to you seeing you at Casa de Montana Bed & Breakfast.  And you can be sure we will do all we can to ensure that your memorable visit won’t be your last…

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