First Aid to Injured in Fire Departments
The duties of a modern fireman are manifold and various and extend far afield from the actual extinguishment of fires. Among these rescue work plays neither a small nor inconspicuous part. The first thought that comes to the mind of a chief or other officer in command on answering an alarm of fire, especially when it proves to be in a dwelling, a crowded manufactory or a mercantile establishment employing a large number of persons, is for the safety of the occupants. All other things—even the control and extinguishment of the blaze—must be subordinated to the saving of precious lives and the rescue of those in peril from the flames. After the occupants of the building are all out of danger, then the work of extinguishment must be pushed.
But the work of the fire chief and his men in respect to the human victims of a fire by no means stops at their actual rescue. Some of them are very apt to have been injured either by burns from coming in actual contact with the flames, by broken bones and other injuries suffered in making their escape, or from suffocation from inhaling the smoke. Immediate attention is needed in every such case, and it must not only be prompt but must also be of a skilled nature, if the victims are to be relieved from their sufferings and in some cases their lives saved.
It is here that the necessity for knowledge of First Aid to the Injured on the part of the fireman becomes imperative. Unskilled attention to those needing care, whether members of the fire department hurt in the performance of their duties or others who have escaped from the burning building, is almost sure to prove worse than if they were let alone. It is necessary to know just what to do quickly to relieve pain and how to do it.
So that, this being true, it is evident that every member of the department, from the chief down, should have a working knowledge of what to do in case of any form of injury so as to tide the victim over until the arrival of the surgeon, who of course should be summoned at once. In very many cases the proper exercise of this knowledge will result in the saving of lives and in any event will greatly lessen the suffering of the patients. The study of First Aid is now very wisely incorporated in the curriculum of all fire department schools and the teaching of it should be made compulsory in all departments, whether paid or volunteer, large or small.