For Bettina Janz – our cover mom this month – and her then 4-year-old son Timon, the morning of January 17 started out much like any other.
Though Timon hadn’t been feeling well that morning, his energy levels were still high as he bounced around the apartment. However, right after Janz laid him down for a nap, he started to have a seizure.
Janz dialed International SOS’ 24-hour assistance center. The latter called a city ambulance. While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, Janz was able to administer first aid measures due to her training as an International SOS doctor.
After her experience, Janz taught basic first aid and CPR to her ayi. She stresses the importance of learning CPR and first aid for any adult caregiver, whether they are parents, extended family members, ayis, or drivers. She also recommends building a support network, no matter how large, and establishing communication with at least two or three neighbors in case of emergency.
An Overview of Emergency Services
Though emergency medical infrastructure has improved significantly in recent years, Beijing is still a major city with traffic and transportation issues, and waiting for an ambulance may not always be the best option. Language can also be a barrier to clear communication with emergency operators.This is why Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and first aid training is important for adults, regardless of whether they have families. The best response to a crisis – be it health-related, a natural disaster, or an injury – is advance preparation and planning.
When responding to situations not involving one’s family or friends, keep in mind that China does not have a Good Samaritan law, which would protect common citizens who attempt to provide emergency assistance from legal liability, regardless of the outcome. It is for this reason that many Chinese citizens avoid the scene of accidents and hurry by without offering help. For example, performing CPR on a victim is likely to cause some chest soreness or related minor injuries, for which the rescuer can be sued even if the victim is successfully revived. Though you may feel compelled to help, the best course of action may be to let emergency personnel handle the situation.
Though it may seem drastic, natural disasters should also be factored into any emergency preparations for Beijing residents. The city has experienced a number of these, including floods – torrential rain in July 2012 led to 77 deaths – and earthquakes. Although Beijing is not as seismically active as neighboring Japan or California, residents should remember that a 7.8 magnitude earthquake flattened the city of Tangshan less than 150km from here on July 28, 1976 and killed 250,000 people.
First Aid Kits
One simple measure you can take right away is to assemble an emergency first aid kit or preferably several to keep in strategic locations like your home, office, and car. All contents should satisfy the two important criteria of portability and practicality; the best first aid kit is one that you can carry with you at all times. Be sure to include the basics:
• A few pairs of surgical gloves made of vinyl or a non-latex material (many people are allergic to latex)
• At least 10 adhesive strips/plasters, also non-latex
• At least two sterile gauze pads each in 2-inch, 3-inch, and 4-inch sizes
• At least two rolls of gauze (not elastic wrap or Ace bandages, which can easily pull too tight and restrict blood flow)
• A barrier for giving rescue breaths, either a pocket mask or a one-time use face shield
This can all be kept in a large zipper bag, which can be packed into any reasonably-sized handbag or backpack. Large, heavy first aid kits may be comprehensive but often contain items like pharmaceuticals that laypeople are not authorized to give out and equipment like syringes that the untrained should not use. Keep it simple and remember to keep your first aid kit fully stocked. Supplies should be checked every three months, as some items expire or dry out and need to be replaced. Other supplies to keep in your house in case of emergency include reserve drinking water, fire extinguishers for each floor of your home, rope ladders in case of fire on higher floors, and smoke hoods in case of fire.
Of equal or greater importance is to have a plan in case of an earthquake or fire, which could save time and potentially someone’s life. Questions to consider include:
• Where will your assembly point be?
• What is your main route of the house or office?
• What is the alternate plan in case that route is blocked or unavailable?
Working parents and students should also take the time to find out more about their office or school’s emergency plan:
• Where are the emergency exits?
• Is there an alternate emergency exit?
• Where is the office or school’s first aid kit?
• Who is responsible for it?
• Is it well-stocked?
• Who is trained in CPR and first aid?
• In the event of emergency, is there a chain of command?
Asking these questions may make a company or school realize that they lack planning for emergencies and lead them to undertake better preparation for such scenarios.
Perhaps you’ve paid for your ayi or driver to take a CPR or first aid training course. But are they with you throughout the night, on weekends, and holidays outside of China? In a crisis, will your ayi or driver have the presence of mind to take action rather than panic, even if they are trained?
The key to an emergency situation is to build a bridge between the incident and the arrival of trained medical personnel or the patient’s arrival at a hospital or clinic. The more people are trained to handle emergencies, the more will be ready to handle them if they occur. See the Resources box on the next page for a list of CPR and first aid training providers in Beijing.
Steven Schwankert is the founder of SinoScuba, an Emergency First Response Instructor Trainer, and the managing editor of the Beijinger (sister magazine of beijingkids).
Beijing United Family Hospital (BJU) 北京和睦家医院
BJU offers separate first aid and CPR/AED (automated external defibrillator) courses for individuals. Each course costs RMB 1,000 per person in English or RMB 800 in Chinese, and lasts four hours. The combined first aid and CPR/AED course costs RMB 1,400 in English or RMB 1,100 in Chinese, and takes eight hours to complete. Courses usually take place once a month. Corporate training is also available. To book your place, contact Joy Yao at firstname.lastname@example.org or 5927 7343.
Mon-Sat 8.30am-5.30pm, 24-hour emergency care. 2 Jiangtai Lu, Chaoyang District (400 891 9191) www.ufh.com.cn 朝阳区将台路2号
International SOS Beijing Clinic 北京国际救援中心
International SOS offers three courses: Generic First Aid Training, Paediatric First Aid Training, and First Aid Training for Ayis and Drivers.
• Generic First Aid Training covers CPR/AED and basic first aid, and is given by an International SOS trainer. The next full-day session in English is on May 25 and costs RMB 875 per person. Each participant will receive an American Heart Association (AHA) and International SOS certification, both valid for two years.
• As of February, International SOS offers AHA Paediatric First Aid Training in English, which is specifically geared towards providing first aid to infants and children. The next open session is on May 27 (limited to nine participants); group sessions are also available. The course costs RMB 1,055 per person for the open session or RMB 9,500 for a group class.
• First Aid Training for Ayis and Drivers is a full-day, Chinese-language course focusing on first aid, health, and hygiene. Topics include responding to choking, drowning, animal bites and stings; cuts, burns, chemical hazards; food and body hygiene; CPR; and asthma. The fee is RMB 380 per person (full day, lunch not included). Contact International SOS to find out when the next session is taking place.
Mon-Fri 9am-6pm, Sat-Sun 9am-6pm. Suite 105, Wing 1, Kunsha Building, 16 Xinyuanli, Chaoyang District (Clinic: 6462 9112, 24hr hotline: 6462 9100, email@example.com) www.clinicsinchina.com朝阳区新源里16号琨莎中心一座105室
SinoScuba, a Beijing-based scuba diving center, offers two Emergency First Response courses with internationally-recognized certifications: Primary and Secondary Care (six hours) and Care for Children (four hours). Both courses cover CPR, first aid, shock, spinal injuries, serious bleeding, bandaging, splinting, and illness assessments, but Care for Children is tailored to caregivers of children from birth to age 9. Courses cost RMB 500 each and are available in Chinese and English. Contact Steven at firstname.lastname@example.org or 186 1113 3629.
CDC Emergency Preparedness and Response
The US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has an entire section on preparing for emergencies, including checklists for emergency supply kits and tips for putting together a family emergency plan. Visit emergency.cdc.gov/preparedness.
Editor’s note: beijingkids would like to clarify that the CPR/first aid classes offered by Beijing United Family Hospital (BJU) grant participants an American Heart Association (AHA) certification upon successful completion.
This article originally appeared on page 28-31 of the April 2015 Issue of beijingkids. Click here for your free online copy. To find out how you can obtain a hard copy, contact email@example.com