By Desire Obanefe

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, “a total of 8,437 Nigerians got injured in the road traffic crashes recorded in the second quarter of 2018. 7,946 of the 8,437 Nigerians that got injured, representing 94% of the figure, are adults while the remaining 491 Nigerians, representing 6% of the figure are children. 6,415 male Nigerians, representing 76%, got injured in road crashes in Q2 while 2,022 female Nigerians, representing 24% got injured”.

The report went further to state that “a total of 1,331 Nigerians got killed in the road traffic crashes recorded in Q2 2018. 1,257 of the 1,331 Nigerians that got killed, representing 94% of the figure, are adults while the remaining 74 Nigerians, representing 6% of the figure are children. 1,047 male Nigerians, representing 79%, got killed in road crashes in Q2 while 284 female Nigerians, representing 21% got killed”.

The above report emphasizes the need for urgent action to prevent Road Traffic Accidents or reduce the number of deaths resulting from Road Traffic Accidents.

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How can we reduce the number of people we lose to Road Traffic Accidents?  One of the ways is to ensure that all drivers acquire First Aid training.  As at present, there is a serious lack of first aid knowledge and skill in Nigeria and most parts of Africa.  When people drive along and witness accidents, they may wish to help but lack the knowledge of what to do. For one to help in a situation of need, he/she must have something to offer. So to help at the scene of a Road Traffic Accident it is vital that all drivers acquire first aid skills.  And when I say all drivers, I mean anyone who drives a vehicle, whether commercial, corporate or private driver. When drivers acquire first aid skills, they can be more helpful and less confused when they see a Road Traffic Accident.

In one of my training sessions, one of the participants related how a commuter bus was involved in an accident and the driver’s leg was trapped.  For fear of an explosion from the accident vehicle, another driver who stopped to help brought out a machete from his vehicle and cut off the leg of the driver who was trapped so as to extricate him. Eventually, the driver died from excessive bleeding from that amputation.  This is just one of the reasons everyone, especially drivers who regularly witness Road Traffic Accidents need to acquire First Aid skills so that they can know the right thing to do and not cause more harm.

In May 2008, to stress the importance of why first aid must be part of a Road Safety Strategy, the EU Red Cross National Societies in a Position Paper on First Aid and Driving License stated that in Europe:

“57% of deaths from traffic collisions occur in the first few minutes of the crash

  • Up to 85% of preventable pre-hospital deaths may be due to airway obstruction and occur before the arrival of the emergency services
  • 22% occur during transport to the hospital or within the same day
  • 21% occur within 30 days”

If this road safety strategy is so vital in Europe where things are better organized, will it be less important in Africa and in Nigeria in particular?  As cited at the outset, research shows that Nigeria has one of the highest rates of deaths resulting from road traffic accidents in the world.  For this reason, it is vital for all drivers to have first aid skills with which to help accident victims on Nigerian roads.

Another reason why it is important for drivers to acquire First Aid Skills is that in Nigeria and in most parts of Africa we do not have adequate emergency services and so it may be too late before an accident victim will get help at the nearest medical facility. But if someone who has some first aid skills stops to help, his/her assistance will make the difference between life and death.  It should be noted that many people who die from Road Traffic Accidents die as a result of the inability to breathe normally, excessive bleeding, burns, fracture, etc.  The first aid provider has been trained on how to manage such complications skillfully so as to save lives.

First aid training educates people on what to do to prevent road traffic accidents.  It helps people to know what to do in case of a Road Traffic Accident which includes protecting the scene of the accident, carrying out some lifesaving first aid, calling for help and helping to transport casualties to the hospital.  First aid practitioners recognize the fact that everyone has the potential to save lives. Individuals must also see providing first aid anywhere and on the road in particular as a humanitarian act. So I encourage individual car owners to acquire this life-saving skill.  Corporate organizations should take it as a point of duty to send their drivers for first aid training so as to contribute to reducing the number of deaths from Road Traffic Accidents on our roads.

Desire Egbaoghene Obanefe is a First Aid Trainer, Trainer Assessor and Occupational Safety and Health Professional. He can be reached on desire_obanefe@yahoo.com

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