The importance of first aid and wound-care knowledge

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The personal stories shared in our first-aid testimonials underline the importance of first aid and wound-care knowledge in everyday life.


Good preparation is everything

"As Jennie was stuck in bed with a heavy cold, her husband and her then seven-year-old son, Paul, wanted to do something nice for her by making her a soothing, hot cup of tea. However, instead of a knock on the door, Jennie heard a sudden cry. She recalls immediately running to her husband and son. ‘As they were walking up the stairs, the hot tea fell down and splashed all across Paul’s back. His entire neck was burned. It looked terrible,’ says Jennie. 

Fortunately, as someone who works in Healthcare Marketing, she knew about the importance of first aid and responded immediately. ‘I was horrified, of course, but I knew what I needed to do. This knowledge let me respond right there and then, without having to think. I took Paul to the bathroom straight away and cooled down his neck in the bathtub using water that wasn’t too cold. I kept his T-shirt on so it wouldn’t tear off any skin by pulling it off. At the same time, my husband called an ambulance,’ she says."

Prepare your medicine cabinet and first-aid knowledge

"The burn wounds were able to be treated professionally by the hospital. After about four weeks of bandages, regular wound cleaning and protection from the sun, Paul’s skin had recovered without even leaving a single scar. Jennie says, ‘We’re very happy that Paul is doing well again. Despite that, minor or major accidents can happen at home at any time, especially ones involving children. I’ve learned a lot about first aid, which helps me feel well prepared. I recommend to all parents that they do the same thing and also take refresher first-aid courses regularly.’ 

Jennie says she gives the same amount of attention to preparing her medicine cabinet as she does to her first-aid knowledge. ‘At home, I always keep a disinfectant spray and plasters of various shapes and sizes for the right wound protection. Wound-care ointment is also important for the healing process. We call it a magic cream, and that makes my kids much more likely to put it on than if we called it an ointment.’"

The importance of post-operative wound care

"Just a small lump at the top of her foot and no reason to panic. That was the diagnosis that Nadine was given in November 2021. A routine outpatient procedure lasting 20 minutes was supposed to be enough to fix the problem so she could head straight back home afterwards. ‘I would never have guessed that I would still be suffering the consequences of this operation almost half a year later,’ Nadine explains. 

The procedure itself didn’t cause the infection. Rather, it was a germ that penetrated the wound, probably when the bandages were being changed at the outpatient clinic, and triggered an infection. ‘The wound got hot and I started feeling major pain. It took less than 24 hours for me to end up in hospital again. Ultimately, they had to undo the stitches from my operation so they could clean out the wound thoroughly,’ she recounts. Yet the wound did not heal as planned over the following weeks, either. The infection resulted in further procedures, trips to the emergency room and a hospital stay."

There is room for improvement when it comes to wound care

"The wound has now healed, though the scar on Nadine’s leg reminds her of the long and painful process she had to go through. She learned about the importance of first aid even for smaller wounds and post-operative wound treatment: ‘I always carry a set with me so that I can clean small wounds on my kids directly and protect them. I’ve learned from my own experience that wounds – no matter how big or small – must never be underestimated and always need to be treated with appropriate thoroughness.’

However, Nadine also believes that there is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to post-operative wound care. ‘I wasn’t given enough information about the topic and was partly overwhelmed, especially after the infection. I was worried that I wasn’t doing everything correctly,’ she says. To care for wounds correctly, especially large ones, and prevent infections, Nadine recommends this: ‘After an operation, ask for comprehensive advice about wound care. Often you think that the worst is behind you once the operation is over. However, if the wound becomes infected, you’ll have something much worse to deal with. This is why detailed information and advice are incredibly important.’

The marketing director also has one more piece of advice for post-operative wound care: ‘It’s important to listen to your body. If you recognise changes within a wound, for example signs of infection, don't hesitate to call for help.’"

How two young twin sisters became lifesavers

"Two and a half years ago, sisters Emma and Martha were enjoying cooling down in the pool at the Cambodian resort where they were spending the winter holiday with their parents. They weren’t alone. Adults were swimming their laps, while two children aged around two were splashing about in the shallow end. ‘All of a sudden, we saw one of the kids lose control and end up too deep in the pool. He kept sinking until the water was above his nose and he couldn’t breathe anymore,’ says Emma. The toddler entered a state of shock beneath the water – and stopped moving.

The two sisters didn’t hesitate. They immediately swam toward the child and brought him back to the safe, shallow end of the pool. ‘We didn’t think twice about it. We just did what we had to do automatically,’ as Martha describes. There came a moment of relief: the boy was still breathing! Thanks to the efforts of the two courageous helpers, he had remained unharmed.

This experience taught the sisters, who are now 13 years old, about how important it is to keep your eyes and ears open. ‘You need to look out for one another so that you’re able to see if someone is in danger,’ explains Emma. Martha adds that you also need to look after your own safety, and says, ‘You can’t help in every situation, for example, if you can’t swim yourself. But anyone can call for help, and that in itself is helping. The only mistake you can make is doing nothing.’"

The importance of psychological first aid and empathy

"Volunteer fire department members are always on call – it’s their passion. Benjamin shares this passion, too. He has pursued his enthusiasm of helping others in a small town near Hamburg since the age of 13. Over this long period of time, he has been able to complete numerous first-aid courses. What’s more, he has gained critical experience that goes beyond the classic textbooks.

‘When someone has had a minor or severe accident, you should not underestimate the importance of first aid psychologically! The initial shock is usually significant and sometimes the people are in an extreme situation. Calming them down can make a dramatic difference in the end,’ he says, describing his experience, and adds, ‘We don’t leave victims alone at any time. Knowing that help is right there and that someone is looking after you is often extremely important.’ For example, someone can hold the victim’s hand while calling the emergency services."

Get a refresher on the things you have learned

"This is especially the case when an accident involves children, as Benjamin explains, ‘Children need a special amount of attention and consolation. Even if they’ve only received minor wounds, they need to be taken care of professionally. I often carry plasters with a special design for these situations. They quickly put a smile back on a child’s face when they have small injuries.’

The volunteer firefighter also has more advice: ‘To provide first aid, it’s very important to get a refresher on the things you have learned. When you know what you need to do, you simply have more confidence when the situation is grave. That means everyone is well served by attending a refresher course at least occasionally. These courses also teach you which situations you can handle yourself and in which ones you should call for professional help.’"

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