Can we recommend medications on a first aid course?
Medications, why we can’t recommend them to you
We often get asked on our first aid courses about whether some medications are worth having in a first aid kit, and “could I use product X on injury Y”? My stock response is always to say that as a first aid trainer I can’t recommend any off the shelf medications, and it is entirely up to you as a consenting adult to make that decision for yourself.
If carrying out first aid in a ‘professional’ context, where there is a duty of care implied, then we cannot use medications of any sort anyway, so they are not included in our training.
I recently received an email from a former student of ours in response to our recent blog post on the treatment of burns. Andrew agreed to let me share his story in this blog in the hope that others don’t suffer the same fate as him, and I think it perfectly sums up why we can’t recommend any medications:
“Hi Tom, I will be coming to refresh my training very soon. For now I’d like to share my experience of Savlon spray on a burn.
I burnt the palm of my hand a little on some hot oil. After about half an hour of tap running, the burn blistered, but stopped stinging.
I was at my mum’s house, she appeared with savlon “spray” and as mothers do, without asking she grabbed my hand and gave a good squirt.
Before long the heat started to grow. What she had done was make the burn air/water tight with the “adhesive” in the spray, which I was un-aware of when she applied it. I couldn’t get the spray off, as it had set almost immediately.
My word did it hurt, for about 6 hours of tap running and buckets of chilled water. Looking online for a way to remove the spray, I read numerous accounts of mountain bikers in great pain after applying the spray to their wounds.
Once the pain stopped, the adhesive in the spray worked really well to protect the blister, for about 3 days.
So, for the record, savlon spray is good to protect a blister, but only well after the burn site has cooled down.
Andrew Macdonald. ”
So, there you have it. The treatments we describe on our courses are almost all ‘natural’ IE they use water, ice in some cases, and are good logically thought out approaches to first aid in the real world. That way there is never a risk that you misunderstand the use of a product as Andrew’s Mum did, and cause more pain than good.
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