World First Aid Day: ‘First Aid and Road Safety’

World First Aid Day: ‘First Aid and Road Safety’

by Dr. Kaushik Bharati on Sep 13 2019 5:00 PM
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  • World First Aid Day is celebrated on the second Saturday of September every year
  • The theme for 2019 is ‘First Aid and Road Safety’
  • It aims to generate awareness about the vital role of First Aid in saving lives of road traffic accident victims
World First Aid Day (WFAD) is observed on the second Saturday of September every year. Hence, this year, it will be celebrated on 14th September 2019. The main objective of WFAD is to create awareness about the importance of this life-saving practice and inspire people to undergo First Aid training, which also gives the courage and confidence to act in a timely manner.


Genesis of World First Aid Day

World First Aid Day was established by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in 2000. It should be noted that the IFRC is the world’s largest humanitarian network that reaches out to over 150 million people across 187 countries through their respective National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in which more than 17 million volunteers provide their selfless service. Besides providing humanitarian services, the IFRC provides a global voice to vulnerable and deprived populations who are at the highest risk of accidents and natural or man-made calamities. Since 2000, the annual WFAD celebrations have been organized by the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in their respective countries across the world.


World First Aid Day 2019 Theme

The World First Aid Day Theme for 2019 is First Aid and Road Safety'. This theme is very apt as all of us are road users – be it as pedestrians, pedal cyclists, motorcyclists, riders, drivers or passengers. The WFAD celebrations will include various events and activities, awareness programs, fundraisers, and most importantly, hands-on First Aid training. The hashtag for WFAD is #WorldFirstAidDay, which can be used to spread useful information on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


First Aid and Its Importance

‘First Aid,’ as the name suggests, is the ‘first aid or assistance’ given to a person who has suffered a sudden injury due to an accident. It is important for everyone to have a basic idea and some degree of training in First Aid in order to save someone’s life in an emergency. This is especially true in the case of road traffic accidents, as timely administration of First Aid could mean the difference between life and death.
The ‘3 Ps’ of First Aid: The key goals of First Aid can be succinctly summarized in the acronym ‘3 Ps’, which are highlighted below:
  • Preserve Life: This is the primary goal of First Aid. Its objective is to save lives by preventing death or serious disability, so that life is preserved
  • Prevent Further Harm: This means preventing the condition from worsening, as well as ensuring that further injury does not occur
  • Promote Recovery: Once the ‘first 2 Ps’ have been addressed, the third and final goal of First Aid should be to initiate the recovery process by supportive care, so that the victim can be stabilized prior to transfer to a hospital or clinic so that proper medical care can be given
The ‘ABCs’ of First Aid: Another set of goals for keeping a badly injured person alive is to follow the ‘ABCs’ of First Aid, which is very important, especially in case of road traffic accidents. ‘ABC’ stands for ‘Airway’, ‘Breathing’ and ‘Circulation.’ These indicate:
  • Airway or respiratory tract should be open without any obstruction
  • Breathing should be normal
  • Circulation of blood should be normal, which can be verified by checking the pulse

First Aid App: A Useful New Innovation

Currently, there are two First Aid Apps that are available – one developed by the British Red Cross and the other by the Canadian Red Cross. These help to prepare for hands-on First Aid training, as well as refresh one’s First Aid skills.

Indian Red Cross Society and its Activities

The Indian Red Cross Society, which has its headquarters in New Delhi, has been at the forefront of providing First Aid training in partnership with St. John’s Ambulance (India). First Aid training is imparted to the general population, to those working in risky occupations, as well as to communities living in disaster-prone areas of the country.

The Indian Red Cross Society, through its First Aid training activities, aims to help achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG 3): Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages, as well as contribute to the Government of India’s target of achieving ‘Health for all’.

Moreover, the Indian Red Cross Society’s State Branches celebrate World First Aid Day annually by organizing awareness events and training sessions to educate people of all ages about the importance of First Aid, as well as encourage them to wear helmets and seatbelts to avoid injuries in the event of road traffic accidents. The Society also gives away awards and prizes to honor those who excel in providing First Aid services for saving lives.

Road Traffic Accidents: Facts & Figures

  • 9th leading cause of death worldwide
  • Will become 7th leading cause of death worldwide by 2030
  • Road traffic deaths account for 2.2 percent of all deaths worldwide
  • Global rate of road traffic deaths is 18.2 per 100,000 population
  • 1.35 million deaths occur due to road traffic accidents every year
  • 50 million people are injured due to road traffic accidents every year
  • 50 percent of road traffic deaths are among pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists
  • Wearing motorcycle helmets can reduce the risk of fatal injuries by 42 percent and head injuries by 69 percent
  • Wearing seatbelts can reduce risk of death by 45-50 percent for front-seat occupants and 25 percent for rear seat occupants
  • Using child restraints can reduce deaths by 60 percent in children
  • 5-35 percent of road traffic deaths are alcohol-related
  • Enforcing drink-driving laws can reduce road traffic deaths by 20 percent
  • Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death in the age group of 5-29 years
  • Anoxia is the most common cause of road traffic deaths
  • Road traffic deaths in low-income countries are double that of high-income countries
  • 93 percent of road traffic deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs)
  • USD 65 billion is the annual cost borne by LMICs for road traffic accidents

First Aid Tips for Two Common Injuries in Road Traffic Accidents

Severe bleeding and head injuries are very common in road traffic accidents. The First Aids for these are briefly highlighted below:
  • Bleeding: This is very common in road traffic accidents. The First Aid for heavy bleeding is to apply firm and direct pressure on the wound using a clean cloth or bandage if available. If the bleeding is in the lower limb, the leg should be raised above the level of the body, keeping the victim lying on his/her back. The head and torso should be raised if the bleeding is in the upper part of the body
  • Head Injury: If a head injury is suspected, the victim should not be moved abruptly and should be kept on his/her back. The head should be bandaged with a clean cloth to stop any bleeding. The heart rate should be checked and it should be ensured that the victim is breathing properly. If breathing has stopped, then cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) will be required. It is very important to take the victim to the hospital as soon as possible

Global Road Safety Partnership: A Major Initiative to Reduce Road Traffic Accidents Worldwide

The Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP) is a Flagship Program of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), which was established exactly two decades ago in 1999, in partnership with the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the World Bank. This year marks its 20th Anniversary.

The major objective of this Global Partnership is to bring together various stakeholders from the public and private sectors, as well as from civil society to reduce the incidence of road traffic deaths and injuries in LMICs. The GRSP is currently active in over 40 countries, where multi-sectoral road safety partnerships have been established to implement good practice interventions for promoting road safety throughout the world.


Although great strides have been made to increase road traffic safety worldwide, achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 3.6 of a ‘50 percent reduction in the number of road traffic deaths by 2020’ still remains a far cry. Therefore, in the current scenario, First Aid practices should be promoted to tackle the ever-increasing menace of road traffic accidents on a war footing to save as many lives as possible.

  1. World First Aid Day - International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) - (
  2. Global Status Report on Road Safety 2018 - World Health Organization - (
  3. Global Road Safety Partnership: Celebrating 20 Years - (
  4. World First Aid Day: Refresh Your Skills - British Red Cross - (
  5. The Red Cross First Aid App - Canadian Red Cross - (
  6. Historical Background: First Aid for All - International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) - (


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