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What to do in case of medical emergencies

What to do in case of medical emergencies

As shocking as it may sound, across the country in case of certain kinds of medical emergencies a patient can only be treated at a hospital that has a Medico Legal Officer (MLO) present. Primarily, these are government-owned or government-operated facilities.

In Karachi this was changed a few years ago on the orders of the court, during the height of target killing cases, whereby now all hospitals, public and private are allowed to treat gunshot patients before the MLO report is established. The hospitals would still be required to produce the MLO report but a mechanism was established in case the MLO is not present. Despite the change in rule, it is not uncommon for patients to be turned away by private facilities.

Which cases require a MLO report?

There are several cases which require a MLO report and the most common situations are:

— Road traffic injuries

— Terrorism cases (bombings, shootings etc)

— Firearm injuries (targeted victims, stray bullet victims or even accidental shooting cases)

— Physical assaults

— Homicides

— Rape / sexual assault (must be reported within 24 hours of the incident)

— Suicide or attempted suicide

— Poisoning

If you are confused about any other situation apply this simple logic: head to the nearest government-operated emergency centre. They will provide the patient first aid and, if required, a MLO report and further guidance on hospitalisation. Thereafter you can transfer the victim to a private facility.

I don’t know where the nearest government facility is. What should I do?

It is not surprising for most medical professionals to hear this. Depending on where you reside in the country, the government-operated facilities are generally few and far between even in major cities. This situation gets acute as you move to smaller cities and towns.

Here’s what you can do?

Before the incident:

Research and find out where the hospital with a MLO facility is situated nearest to your home, school, place of work, frequented public spaces such as malls, parks, beach, lakes etc are.

Make sure everyone who needs to know is aware:

Family: put it on the emergency list in your home.

Work: ensure the admin puts it on the list that’s prominently displayed or the emergency team has it readily available.

Schools: check with the school if they are aware and if not help and guide them too.

Public spaces: this is for you to know as well as anyone in the family that goes there.

During the incident:

Call up the rescue/emergency services. Once the ambulance shows up, the driver will know where to go. If you are taking the victim yourself then the helpline will be able to guide you.

Call a doctor. They generally know where to go and get appropriate help. They can even guide you on what to do while transporting the victim to the hospital (same holds true for several emergency help lines).

Send out a Whatsapp message to your contacts or post a quick social media update asking for the information.

Help lines across the country that have been tried and tested are:

Rescue 1122 (Punjab and KPK)

EDHI 115

Chippa 1020

Aman Foundation (Sindh)

Note: Always try to find details for localised services that may be equally effective in an emergency as the more common providers could be overwhelmed and unresponsive particularly during mass casualty situations.

Post Incident:

— Review all that you found out and did

— Whether the information was helpful or not share an update with those concerned (as listed above); it will help them in the future

— If you don’t have a family doctor, get one now.

The Good Samaritan:

Unlike in many countries, Pakistan doesn’t have a Good Samaritan law. This law was created to ensure that anyone who may offer you support in an emergency is not prosecuted at some time in the future for inadvertently causing you harm while trying to help.

However this should not deter you from helping others in trouble. What it should do is to drive a desire to learn how to correctly provide first aid.

Basic First Aid should be taught to everyone including young children.

Here are some of the key focus areas:

Heimlich manoeuvre (how to remove foreign objects that are obstructing the airway, choking)

Stop, Drop, Roll (action to be taken in case a person’s clothing is on fire).

CPR (in case a person has stopped breathing)

Treatment of burns (special focus on what home remedies to avoid)

Treatment for bleeding (both minor and severe)

Fainting (how to quickly revive a person and what follows up is required)

Broken limbs, sprains (how to quickly stabilise the victim to avoid further complications).

Mobile Apps:

There are several mobile phone apps that can quickly guide you on what to do. They have pictorial as well as voice guides.

St John’s Ambulance First Aid for both IOS and Android is a good tool to have.

Remember: Always have detailed medical records for all family members readily available.

The writer is a safety and security advisor

Twitter @norbalm

Email [email protected]


Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, September 18th, 2016

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