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First Aid For Acid Attacks: What You Can Do As A Witness

The rising number of acid attacks are an indication that humanity is on the decline. It has even metamorphosed into being referred to as a new face of gender-based violence, especially in countries like India and Bangladesh [1] . Irrespective of the country and region, the lack of stricter rules and harsher punishments are dubbed as the cause of rise in the inhumane act, by the enraged society and the victims (read survivors).

The psychological, economic and social impact these crimes can have on the victim are never-ending. While the assailant absconds or gets slapped with a few years behind the bars, it is the survivor who has to live with the consequences - all through their life, which not only affects the victim but also their family [2] .

Although the attacks are high on women, men are also not safe. In countries like Jamaica, women are reported to have resorted to acid violence against men more often than men against women. There is no specific pattern to these attacks; unjust actions fuelled by hatred and mindlessness [3] .

In the current article, we will take a look at the way to approach the chemical burns and what you need to do immediately to help the victims. Take a look.

First Aid For Acid Attacks

Quick action is the only means to minimise the damage caused by the chemicals. Immediate help can help prevent extensive damage to the eyes, skin and the surrounding tissues [4] [5] . The most important step is to immediately inform the nearest police station and call for an ambulance. In the mean time, consider the following:

1. The first and most important step is, to make sure that the area around the individual with an acid burn is safe. That is, there is no pooled acid anywhere near them. If the chemical used for attack is in powder form, brush it off the skin using the help of a cloth or a scarf you are wearing.

2. DO NOT use your hands and try to brush off the acid, as it can leave burns on your hand.

3. The next critical step is to try and flood the burn with water to disperse the chemical and stop the burning. Always make sure this source is uncontaminated.

4. Douse the burn with water for at least 20 minutes, ensuring that no contaminated puddles get collected under the victim.

5. While you are flooding the burn with water, try to gently remove any clothing or jewellery on the victim that has the acid on it. Do not apply force as it can elevate the agony of the individual.

6. If the acid has entered the eyes of the victim, hold their eye under gently running cold water for at least 10 minutes. This allows irrigating the eyelid both outside and inside.

7. DO NOT allow the individual to touch the injured eye, as they may have acid on their hands.

8. If the person uses contact lens and is wearing one at the time of the attack, DO NOT try to remove it forcibly.

9. Make sure that the water used for calming the burns do not enter the eyes that are unaffected by the chemicals.

10. If possible, loosely wrap the burn area in sterilised gauze, which helps prevent the wound from contamination.

On A Final Note...

With the heinous act on a rise, we hope there will be stricter consequences for the attackers; putting a stop to the rising numbers. Various NGOs and health organisations focus on running campaigns against acid violence and reports have indicated that it has indeed spurred a change.

View Article References
  1. [1] Kalantry, S., & Kestenbaum, J. G. (2019). Acid Attacks in India: The Case for State and Corporate Accountability for Gender-Based Crimes. Human Rights in India (Forthcoming), 19-27.
  2. [2] Rai, S., & Pathak, M. K. (2019). Acid Attack: No More A Gender Specific Menace. Indian Journal of Forensic Medicine & Toxicology, 13(4), 108-112.
  3. [3] Hughes, C. D., Dabek, R. J., Riesel, J. N., Baletic, N., Chodosh, J., & Bojovic, B. (2019). Short runs for a long slide: principalization in complex facial restoration after acid attack burn injury. Craniomaxillofacial trauma & reconstruction, 12(01), 075-080.
  4. [4] Haveland, S. (2019). First Aid. Learning to Care E-Book: The Nursing Associate, 207.
  5. [5] Roberts, S. (2018, July 18). How to treat an acid attack and what to do if you’re a witness or involved in an incident. Retrieved from, https://www.thesun.co.uk/fabulous/4016479/treat-acid-burns-advice-attack-advice-witness/
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