Community Health Workers Can Provide Wound Care & First Aid During Natural Disasters

April 7, 2021

More Hands to Help

Community Health Workers (CHWs) play a major role in providing emergency health services in certain situations like Natural Disasters when there will be a shortage of health workers or slower response from the Local Government Health System. Some common natural disasters which will have a huge impact on many people in the community & require quick help from CHWs:

- Earthquake
- Flood
- Tsunami
- Cyclone/Typhoon/Hurricane
- Tornado
- Wildfire

Increased Risks

According to the CDC, during natural disasters, the risk of injury increases significantly. In such scenarios, most local hospitals will be filled with many critical emergency cases. CHWs can help save lives with their first aid training during these situations. In lesser urgent cases, CHWs must perform first aid to wounds of injured people to prevent infection. Tetanus and fungal/bacterial infections can cause significant health issues for people who have open unattended wounds. Community Health Workers check wounds thoroughly for the presence of any foreign objects like soil or wood, or metal. If they find any foreign item in the wound, then they refer that person to a local health provider for immediate medical attention to evaluate for tetanus immunization.

What to Do to Care for a Wound

A few of the many guidelines that Community Health Workers follow in providing first aid to wounded people during a natural disaster that everyone can learn:

- Wash their hands thoroughly with soap and clean water before attending to wounded persons.
- Use disposable latex gloves while touching the wound for first aid. It’s better to avoid touching a wound with direct fingers.
- Make sure that there is no obstructive jewelry or clothing in & around the wound.
- If it’s a bleeding wound, apply direct pressure on it to control bleeding.
- After bleeding is stopped, clean the wound thoroughly with clean running water.
- Look for dirt & foreign particles in the wound.
- Clean the wound gently with soap and clean water.
- Pat dry and apply wound dressing with either a clean cloth or bandage.
- Provide pain relievers to reduce discomfort till further, that person gets medical attention.
- Uncleaned wounds need to leave open because if they are not cleaned properly, they can trap bacteria, which will result in infection.

Clearly, Community Health Workers can have a huge impact in helping respond to natural disasters and other emergencies. International HELP is working to provide more community health workers with this life-saving knowledge.

– Durga Domathota, MPH Intern

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