Thu | Nov 15, 2018

Health ministry urged to educate J'cans on helping accident victims

Published:Thursday | December 17, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Passers-by lift a man, placing him in the back of a pickup to be transported to the Mandeville Hospital, after he was injured in an accident along the Melrose Bypass.
A woman is placed in a vehicle to be transported to the Kingston Public Hospital after she was injured in an accident at the intersection of Hanover and Charles streets in Kingston.

Manager at Ambucare Ambulance Services, Simone Duncan, is imploring the Ministry of Health and other health-sector stakeholders to embark on a public-education campaign to promote proper first-aid practices islandwide.

Duncan was responding to Gleaner queries about the risks of having inexperienced passers-by attempting to assist motor vehicle accident victims at the scene of a crash.

"What they (health officials) can do is encourage everyone - every single householder in Jamaica - to know basic first aid," Duncan said.

"Basic first aid that I'm talking about is, for example, how to stop bleeding, how to clear the airway, how to safely remove something from behind an injured person's head, and having them lie in a supine position. Those are simple things. These are things that are even in the telephone directory," said Duncan.


A video now circulating on the Internet points to the inherent dangers of providing unprofessional assistance at accident scenes.

The video, showing witnesses assisting Jordan 'J Capri' Phillips from her wrecked C-Class Mercedes-Benz on November 23, reveals the very unprofessional execution of first-aid procedures.

Phillips was pulled out of the vehicle, without any effort to ensure her body was stabilised, then carried by her arms and feet to another vehicle for her to be transported to hospital.

While attempting to get her to the vehicle, she was dropped to the ground in a less-than-gentle manner before being picked back up and placed in the car, which took her to the University Hospital of the West Indies.

Phillips was induced into a coma, and despite reports that she was responding positively to treatment, she succumbed to her injuries on December 4.

While the images of the methods employed to assist the dancehall entertainer at the accident scene were troubling, there has been no clear indication that the attempts to help caused further injury, and Duncan stressed that persons should not be criticised for springing into action.

"Let me be quite frank with you. Let's look at it from a natural perspective. If somebody sees someone in danger or someone has harm done to them and they're suffering, the first human instinct is to help," she said, noting that these Good Samaritans are not to be blamed for being untrained and unknowledgeable.

"What happened to that young lady is unfortunate, but don't bother to beat down on the Samaritans too much, because they don't know better, and all they're thinking is 'How can we save a life?'. [Unfortunately,] instead they [might] cause more harm and damage," Duncan said.