Malicious acid attacks using corrosive substances are, sadly, on the increase.
Although still a relatively uncommon weapon, acids and other corrosive chemicals create injuries that are life-changing for the victim.
Household cleaning products include toilet cleaners and bleach which are readily brought in supermarkets and hardware shops as well as battery acid contain these hazardous chemicals.
This is why, we all need to know what to do in the event of an attack
In August last year the NHS, the British Burn Association and the Royal College of Surgeons launched the Report, Remove and Rinse campaign
As soon as you’re aware of an acid attack taking place, shout for help and get someone to call 999 and explain what has happened, put the phone of speaker phone, so you can talk directly to the ambulance service.
Protect yourself from acid attacks
Make sure there is no continuing risk of attack and the assailant has either been immobilised or has left the scene.
But you must be sure that you’re not at risk, before attempting to administer first aid, additional casualties are not helpful.
Put on gloves
Every first aid box will have some form of protective gloves so make sure you use them.
Check the floor and adjacent surfaces for chemical spills before you kneel down.
Take immediate and appropriate action following acid attacks to remove the contamination.
If the chemical is a powder brush it gently off the skin before washing. Watch out for airborne particles.
Never wipe or rub the area.
Carefully cut away all clothing from the area, shears are usually in the first aid box.
Never pull T-shirts over the head, because chemical may get into the eyes.
Make sure not to pull any clothing stuck to the skin, cut away all contaminated clothing, with the shears.
Immediately after acid attacks start flushing the whole area with copious amounts of clean water and continue to do so for 20 minutes.
Rinsing within 1 minute of the event will reduce complications.
This makes the difference to the, pain, suffering, scarring and long-term recovery of the casualty.
Continue flushing for a further 15 to 20 minutes, if it’s still burning.
The best sources of water are a tap, hose or shower, drinking water bottles are insufficient for more than initial flushing, but several water cooler bottles can be used.
David Ward, President of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS), said:
“BAPRAS surgeons specialising in burns and trauma have seen first-hand the devastating impact on patients admitted to A&E after vicious corrosive substance attacks. They cause severe pain, scarring which can be life-long, and can damage the sight, sometimes leading to blindness. Unfortunately these vindictive attacks are on the increase.
“The minutes after an acid attack are critical for helping a victim. This guidance BAPRAS has published with NHS England gives the important, urgent steps a victim or witness can take to help reduce the immediate pain and damage, and long-term injuries.”
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