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close this bookGuide to Health and Hygiene in Agricultural Work (ILO, 1979, 328 p.)
close this folder6. Organisation of occupational health services and medical inspection of labour in agriculture
close this folder6.5. Organisation of first aid
View the document(introduction...)
View the document6.5.1. First-aid training
View the document6.5.2. The treatment centre
View the document6.5.3. Poisoning prevention centres


The organisation of first aid in agriculture is particularly difficult-first, because the accident generally occurs at a place far removed from a treatment centre; and second, because of the inadequate means of communication and transport. It is therefore advisable to make advance provision for the administration of first aid, in order that disastrous mistakes, or indeed a total inability to save the life of a person in danger, may be avoided. The plans should provide for medical care as well as for first aid.

6.5.1. First-aid training

The agricultural doctor should do his best to encourage people to become proficient in first aid. First-aid attendants should be chosen from among both men and women, and even from among young people of either sex, who often take a great interest in first aid.

First-aid training may be organised at the agricultural doctor's medical centre. According to the trainees' opportunities for attendance, it could be either spread over several weeks or concentrated in a short period. However, in countries where training is provided by public or private organisations, the doctor should get in touch with these and preferably co-operate with them.

The training course should include the study of different accidents and the methods of administering first aid to the victims, with particular emphasis being laid on the mistakes to be avoided. However, the specific content should follow approved standards of first-aid practice; special attention should be given to problems which are particularly significant in the country or agricultural area concerned.

Practical exercises showing whether the lessons have been well learned are indispensable, and the award of a certificate after success in an examination is often an encouragement to the trainee.

First-aid personnel should also be provided either with pamphlets or with multigraphed instructions with which they can subsequently refresh their memories. These instructions should be simple and clear.

The training of first-aid personnel should not lead to the neglect of arrangements for medical care, and in no case should the administration of first-aid treatment cause delay in summoning a doctor. The purpose of first aid is to do what is necessary pending the arrival of a doctor. It must not be looked upon as makeshift treatment which, if unsuccessful, can be remedied by the doctor. The administration of first-aid treatment and the summoning of the doctor should be, and in most cases can be, simultaneous.

When there are good roads, transport by ambulance is practicable; however, for various reasons (bad roads, no roads, impassable roads) provision must sometimes be made for transport by helicopter. Every sizeable treatment centre should have a landing place for helicopters.

The ambulance or helicopter should be so equipped that treatment can be begun during the journey-for instance, with resuscitation apparatus, perfusion equipment, oxygen and first-aid equipment.

6.5.2. The treatment centre

Some treatment centres specialise in certain injuries (such as burns, poisoning or snake bites). If rapid transport is available, the victim can be taken straight there. If this is not possible, he must first be treated at a primary care centre staffed by competent doctors.

6.5.3. Poisoning prevention centres

The frequency of poisoning, not only of agricultural but also of industrial, domestic and medicinal origin, is enough to justify the creation of poisoning prevention centres. The diversity of agricultural chemicals is too great for anyone but a specialist to diagnose and treat cases of poisoning correctly. Modern methods of resuscitation require specialist personnel. It is therefore desirable to provide for the establishment of such centres, especially in rural areas.

These regional poisoning prevention centres could act as both treatment centres and information centres. If treatment cannot be given, information becomes necessary.

To keep the information provided by the regional centres up to date, it would seem desirable to set up national centres that would centralise and disseminate new knowledge.