Of course it is terrible when you get hurt at home, but I think it is even more unfortunate if you get hurt when traveling abroad. Not only are there language barriers, but there are also potential differences in the approaches to treatment. If you suddenly find yourself in an accident and don’t know basic first aid or have appropriate supplies readily available, this could make a difficult situation even worse.
A few days ago, a colleague of mine experienced two accidents during our business trip that left the rest of us shaking our heads and feeling a bit helpless. Our team went out for dinner on a Friday night to a very nice Italian restaurant to celebrate the end of a long workweek. We were all thoroughly enjoying our delicious meal, when suddenly one of my colleagues screamed and jumped out of her chair. It turns out the server spilled a pot of hot coffee all over her bare arm. Of course the entire restaurant (including me) went silent and couldn’t believe what happened.
There were apologies flying in Spanish, managers coming out of the woodwork, and people wanting to bring ice to put on her increasingly visible burns. I thought I had remembered hearing that ice is the wrong thing to put on a burn, so we opted for olive oil instead. The restaurant neither had aloe vera gel, nor appeared to have much experience on how to deal with burns. However, with good intentions they offered an ambulance but her burns were not serious enough to warrant that. We found a 24-hour pharmacy and bought aloe vera gel, which helped her feel better by the next day.
As if that was not enough, this poor lady went out for a jog that following Sunday morning when ten minutes into her workout, she was struck down by a fast moving cyclist. Needless to say, she suffered bruises and a pretty deep cut on her ankle where one of the bicycle pedals stuck into her leg and left tread marks. She insists that within a minute or two of the incident, a first aid attendant also riding a bike stopped to help her. Obviously he had the right supplies to wrap her bleeding leg. Although nobody spoke much English, she managed to communicate that she was okay and surprisingly continued on her way to finish her workout.
These experiences have made me realize how important it is to have some basic knowledge of first aid, but to also be armed at all times with a few key supplies. This is especially true if you will be traveling in less developed countries or remote areas.
When I return home, I will be looking into putting together a kit that includes things like aloe vera gel for burns, mosquito repellant, pain killer pills, scissors, bandages, tape, and an antiseptic, as well as Benadryl for allergic reactions and anti-diarrheal medicine for a stomach virus. I also noticed that the Red Cross has an App on basic first aid that I will be checking out too. This information is something that I will share with my department and hopefully lead us to be more prepared if accidents strike again.
As always, I wish you all the happiest of travels!