St John Ambulance (Qld) Manager of Health Services, Noel Matson knows the risks and infections associated with holidaying over the Easter period. He urges all holiday makers, particularly those who are camping or fishing, to know the correct first aid treatment to increase healing time as well as avoid infection and pain.
“Although nothing can substitute being trained in first aid and having a well-stocked first aid kit, I want to provide all Queenslanders and holidaymakers with some basic first aid tips that could help save a life,” he said.
Burns including sunburn
Living in Australia means we are blessed with some of the world’s greatest weather. Unfortunately, this also means we are prone to sunburns.
Noel said prevention was the best cure and to ensure sunscreen is applied hourly, particularly on hot days with no shade.
“All burns should be treated by running the area under cold water (not icy) from a tap or hose for 20 minutes to allow the burned skin layers to cool.”
Covering the area with a cool, moist dressing and ensuring the person keeps hydrated will lessen the effects of a sunburn.
“Burns with blisters need to be covered with a non-stick dressing and should not be pricked or broken,” he said.
Although oils and creams are popular for first aid treatment, this is not recommended until advised by medical aid.
First aid kits and communications
When going on holiday, it is important to consider whether you will be travelling to a remote location. Ensuring your knowledge and skill in applying first aid is vital to the preservation of life.
“Before going on holidays whether that is camping, fishing or on a road trip, check your first aid kit is well stocked,” Noel advised.
Noel said a well stocked first aid kit could enable your family to enjoy their holiday for longer and avoid cutting a trip short to seek treatment.
“If faced with an emergency situation, the ability to contact emergency services will depend on your location, equipment and knowledge,” Noel said.
Noel advised planning and preparation were vital, particularly knowing UHF radio channels to contact if in a remote location with limited phone coverage.
“If travelling to a remote location, investing in a satellite phone and a personal locator beacon can be the difference between life and death, he said.
“Medical assistance may be some time away, and you may need to maintain the injured or ill person for some time, so this is where your first aid knowledge and skills are so valuable,” he said.
Regardless of the type of snake you think you might be dealing with, all bites should be treated as serious until medical aid arrives.
“Immediate application of a pressure immobilisation bandage is required as well as dialling triple zero (000) for an ambulance,” he said.
“The bandage needs to be applied from ‘tip to top’ (tips of fingers or toes to the upper part of limb) firmly around the entire limb, ensuring there are no gaps in the bandage application,” Noel said.
Noel said it was vital to make sure the casualty remains still by not moving any part of their body to delay the venom moving to other areas of the body.
“Incorrect myths with snake bites include applying a tourniquet, cutting the wound, sucking the venom or attempting to catch the snake which should all be avoided,” he warned.
Noel said most spiders encountered in the outdoors are treated with ice if a person is bitten.
“Redback, brown recluse, white tail and other small ‘creepy crawly spiders’ are all ice treatment initially, and if the person feels unwell or is ill, medical aid needs to be called,” he said.
Noel said spider bites could cause pain worse than an ant bite and the ice pack (wrapped in a cloth applied to the area) can offer great relief.
“Spiders in the ‘hairy scary category’ such as funnel web and mouse spiders require immediate treatment with a pressure immobilisation bandage and calling triple zero (000) for an ambulance, he said.”
Heat exhaustion is a very common occurrence in Queensland, particularly among the very young and older adults.
“Heat stress can occur within minutes and lead to heat stroke, which can be fatal,” Noel warned.
“On hot days, ensure you drink plenty of water, wear loose clothing, have a cool bath or shower and ensure your home is ventilated with a fan or air-conditioning,” Noel said.
“If the skin is hot, dry and has lost the capability to sweat, you need to call triple zero (000) for an ambulance immediately and begin to loosen tight clothing to help cool yourself down,” he advised.
Noel recommends all Queenslanders prepare for the unexpected by familiarising themselves with these common holiday emergencies and if possible, enrolling in a St John (Qld) first aid course.
“Having the right equipment is just as important as knowing what to do in emergencies. Storing a well-equipped St John first aid kit in the home and car can take the pressure off a stressful situation,” he said.
This is not a substitute for medical advice. Please seek professional advice from your doctor or call triple zero (000) for an ambulance if an emergency occurs.
Enrol in a St John Ambulance first aid course, or purchase a first aid kit at www.stjohnqld.com.au
About St John Ambulance
St John Ambulance Australia is a self-funded charitable organisation with one dedicated purpose; to prevent and relieve sickness and injury from accidents, and to act to enhance the health and wellbeing of all people. How does St John Ambulance do this? By providing quality first aid products, services and training for our communities.
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St John Ambulance Australia Queensland Limited
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Fortitude Valley QLD 4006
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