The Director of the Reconstructive Plastic Surgery and Burns Centre (RPS&BC), at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, Dr. Opoku Ware Ampomah, has opined that Ghanaians need more education on handling burns victims.
In his view, “there is a lot of ignorance, especially among the general public on how to manage fire incidents and administer first aid to burns victims.”
According to him, casualty rates of fire incidents would be considerably low if only the general public had basic knowledge in managing such situations.
“Even in our schools, we don’t have any training for burns. Burn awareness should be a part of our curriculum in our education system. There are many who people who pass through our system, but are totally ignorant about burns and first aid. This is something we need to look at, so we do not have a generation that is totally ignorant about burns, first aid and how to prevent domestic fire outbreak,” he said.
“Eighty percent of burns cases are caused by domestic fires. It is therefore important that every Ghanaian has some amount of knowledge on how to deal with fire situations and in administering first aid to burns victims. This would help complement the efforts of medical professionals in ensuring that burn victims sustain minimal injuries as possible.”
His comments follow Saturday’s gas explosion at Atomic junction in Accra, in which 7 persons died, and some 132 others sustained various degrees of injury.
Many of the injured were traumatized because they were oblivious of the next line of action in the wake of the unfortunate incident, resulting in a stampede.
The surgeon said for instance, people should know that they have “to lay on the ground and roll when their clothes catch fire because if you run, you’re rather fanning the flames.”
Dr. Ampomah further noted that, many buildings across the country are improperly constructed to facilitate the easy tackling of fire incidents, as many buildings even lack smoke detectors which “do not cost much.”
Lack of co-ordination in emergency response
Dr. Ampomah further expressed his disappointment at emergency response in the country, stating that delays in such responses are due to the lack of co-ordination between appropriate agencies.
“When these disasters occur, there is no proper co-ordination between those who have the expertise to provide care for the patients, and those at the emergency service front…We need a proper national center for burns. Existing centers to manage burn victims is ill-equipped with majority of the staff having very little knowledge in taking care of fire systems.”
He said as a country “We need to get a proper national center for burns… What we are doing now is making do with what we have, but in terms of international standards, we are not there yet.”
Dr. Ampomah however noted that that in collaboration with the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, plans are underway to establish Intensive Care Centers for the country.
“For the first time in the country’s history, through international funding, a batch of nurses have been specially trained to handle burn victims. The training was the initiative of the Reconstructive Plastic Surgery and Burns Centre (RPS&BC) at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital.”
The surgeon further charged government to invest more in centers designated to deal with burns, to increase their capacity because “the siting of a lot of filling stations and gas stations are disasters waiting to happen.”
By: Marie-Franz Fordjoe/citifmonline/Ghana