City's first aid skills could use some emergency intervention

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 September, 2011, 12:00am


Most Hongkongers would be at a loss to provide the correct first aid in even the most common emergency situations, according to a Red Cross survey released yesterday.

Only one out of 1,003 people interviewed in June provided the correct answers to all 10 questions about providing help in situations ranging from heat stroke to jellyfish stings to snake bites. Most respondents knew only half the correct responses to emergencies posed.

Some of the answers were not only incorrect but potentially harmful. Some 16 per cent would feed choking patients vinegar and five per cent would apply soy sauce to a burn. Correct responses would be to help those who choke to cough and to cover scald wounds with gauze.

Less than 10 per cent knew to properly treat a jellyfish sting by dousing it with vinegar.

Hongkongers did, however, know how to treat people suffering from heat stroke, nose bleeds or a foreign object in eye. More than 80 per cent of interviewees gave correct answers to those questions.

Iris Chan Yin-ping, the Red Cross's head of health and care service, said the culture of learning first-aid was not well-established in Hong Kong. Chan hoped schools would make first-aid courses compulsory, so that students could have the knowledge from an early age.

'First aid is not something very complicated,' she said. 'We see parents taking their children to the Red Cross to learn first aid too, so why not make it available in schools.'

Meanwhile, the organisation unveiled its first international first aid recommendations. The International First Aid and Resuscitation Guidelines contain scientific, evidence-based informational to first-aid givers, and took experts from around the world three years to establish.

Dr Chung Kin-lai of the Red Cross said the new guideline contain no unproven traditional first-aid means, so it can harmonise with guidelines used in different countries.


People saved from choking worldwide since the Heimlich manoeuvre - a sudden thrust under the diaphragm - was introduced in 1974