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The Nigeria Election and How to Handle Medical Emergencies

We are days away from what is probably a critical period in our nation’s history, the Nigeria election. Nigeria’s election season is here. On the 25th of February, and on the 11th of March, fellow compatriots will head over to the ballot boxes, to vote for their preferred candidates. This year’s election is quite peculiar. For most of us, this is our last opportunity to redeem a country on the brink of annihilation. There are a lot of issues, a lot of expectations, and a lot of tension.

One salient issue is the poor state of emergency medical services in the country. I fear an election process of such magnitude will further expose our healthcare inadequacies. Some basic knowledge of common medical emergencies will go a long way in preventing deaths during the Nigeria election.

Nigeria Election
Image credit: CNN

Nigeria Election: What are Medical Emergencies?

A Medical emergency is a serious, unexpected illness or injury that requires timely medical attention. They pose a risk to the life or long-term health status of an individual. Examples of common medical emergencies include; bleeding, stroke, seizures, asthmatic attacks, anxiety or panic attacks, heart attacks, and sudden collapse.

How to Recognize and Handle Common Medical Emergencies During and After the Nigeria Election

Not knowing when something is wrong or what you can do to help is awful. Many of us struggle with basic medical knowledge. The last thing you want to do in a medical emergency is panic. This can be especially true on an election day, with apprehension and all that. So to begin, maintaining composure in these situations is vital. Here are other facts to know;

BLEEDING (HEMORRHAGE):

Bleeding can be from any part of the body. Hemorrhaging can be external or internal, but not all bleeding falls into the line of a medical emergency. The extent of tissue injury, the severity of the bleeding, and the object causing the injury would determine the urgency. The person’s physiological state will also have an impact.

What you can do for someone bleeding during the Nigeria Election

Once you notice a bleed, the first thing you would want to do is locate the source, and then you can try to stop it – this is done by applying pressure (with your palms, a clean towel, or gauze). Make sure they are immobilized and call for help. A paramedic team or get a vehicle to rush the person to the nearest hospital. Tourniquets should not be used for extended periods because of the tissue damage that can occur.

STROKE (CEREBROVASCULAR ACCIDENT):

A stroke is a medical emergency that arises when there is damage to the brain due to an interruption in its blood supply. Time is of the essence in stroke management. Some of the symptoms of stroke include sudden muscle weakness and paralysis. Other symptoms may include blurred vision or sudden vision loss. Furthermore, symptoms could include slurred speech, and abnormal deviation of the face. The individual may feel lightheaded, weak, or collapse suddenly.

How you can help someone with a stroke during the Nigeria Election

The first thing you must do is call for help. If they are still conscious, ask for a name, tell them to squeeze your hand, then make sure the immediate environment is safe. Place them in a comfortable position; they should lie on their side, with their head slightly raised, and put a cushion under them. Do not try to move them. Ensure their airway is clear, and loosen any tight clothing. Don’t give food or fluids. If they are unconscious, check for pulse and breathing. You may have to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if there is no pulse or if they are unresponsive.

SEIZURES:

Seizures (or fits) occur due to abnormal changes in the electrical activity of the brain. In some instances, it may go unnoticed. In others, it can affect behavior and lead to loss of consciousness, and movement disorders. Individuals may be confused, and stare blankly into space. They may also jerk or twitch uncontrollably.

How you can help someone with a seizure during the Nigeria Election

Once you recognize an ongoing episode, clear the area so they don’t harm themselves, and check for any medical bracelets. Turn them to their side so they can breathe easily. Also, you should loosen any tight clothing, put a soft pad under their head, and monitor the episodes and timing of the seizures. Stay with them, and ensure they are calm and better before you leave. Please do not put anything in their mouth (spoon, stick, ash, or food).

ASTHMATIC ATTACK:

Anything can trigger an attack. During an asthmatic attack, the airway goes into spasm, becomes narrow, and breathing is difficult – individuals cough, sneeze, and wheeze to ease their breathing. They may find it difficult to speak and some could also collapse.

What you can do for someone having an Asthma attack during the Nigeria Election

When you notice someone experiencing an asthmatic attack, don’t be scared to offer help, ask for their inhaler, and encourage them to use it correctly. Ensure they are sitting or lying comfortably, and reassure them. Loosen any tight clothing and make sure there is adequate ventilation. If the attack is severe, get them to the hospital quickly. Other conditions that can cause breathing difficulty include flu, allergic reactions, chronic heart conditions, and COPD.

PANIC ATTACKS:

A panic attack is a sudden intense wave of fear. It is usually debilitating and immobilizing. Some of the signs of a panic attack include; a feeling of impending doom, racing heartbeats, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, chills, hot flushes, chest pain, choking sensation, the churning of the stomach, and an overwhelming need to use the toilet.

How you can help someone having a panic attack during the Nigeria Election

  • Reassure the person that everything is going to be fine.
  • Encourage them to breathe slowly.
  • When they can talk, listen patiently.
  • Advice them to get some rest.
  • If it gets worse, take them to the hospital.

HEART ATTACK:

A heart attack happens when the blood supply to the heart is lost. It can be fatal if not recognized on time or when adequate intervention is not provided. Some of the signs include chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, and heartburn. The pain begins in the chest and spreads to the arms, jaw, neck, stomach, and back.

What you can do for someone having a heart attack during the Nigeria Election

  • Have them rest in a comfortable position.
  • Give them aspirin (if they don’t react to it), nitroglycerin can also be given if available.
  • Loosen any tight clothing.
  • If unconscious, begin CPR immediately.
  • Rush them to a hospital.

SUDDEN COLLAPSE:

A lot of things can cause sudden loss of consciousness; stroke, severe asthma, a traumatic brain injury, hypoglycemia (from starvation), heat stroke, and so on. So try to determine the cause as that will guide your response.

Final Thoughts on Medical Emergencies During the Nigeria Election

On election day, your response to that medical emergency can separate a fatal outcome from a good one. It could be the difference between life and death for that family member, friend, neighbor, or a total stranger.

Stay safe, and don’t forget to vote for a better Nigeria.

Great Erhazele

Great Erhazele is a health writer, poet, and physician-in-training from southern Nigeria. An introverted type, he started his writing journey at a tender age, writing short stories for school plays, and has now graduated to compelling articles for the wellness industry. He has written several pieces of content for different publications and aims to write more. Besides writing, he is also a medical volunteer for various humanitarian organizations, and a part-time photographer.