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CitizenAid app and guide designed to inform the public how to act in a terror attack

Posted on 7th June 2019 at 11:08am

In the UK, the current threat level from international terrorism is set as severe. Since the London bombings on July 7, 2005, we have seen an increase in both the number and types of attacks occurring where marauding or vehicle-based attacks target civilians. As we are all acutely aware, it can take time for an area to be made safe before the emergency services can reach victims. In the past, the hostage/victims’ location was referred to as the ‘hot zone’. ‘Victim nests’ is now a more accurate description to describe a rolling carpet approach to extrication: police or firearms officers clearing a zone, followed by emergency responders triaging victims and providing immediate care.

It is estimated that almost a third of all trauma deaths are preventable with timely treatment. But the only people who can act to make a difference are those who are present at the point of injury: simple knowledge and skills training can, literally, save lives.

CitizenAID is a UK-based philanthropic charity founded in 2016 by military and civilian clinicians, whose ethos draws heavily on lessons learnt from the military. The organisation’s aim is to educate and empower the public, through simple skills and knowledge, in order to prevent avoidable deaths. It runs events for the public and private sector, and holds conferences for students from all backgrounds, but particularly those from the emergency services, medicine and nursing.

Teaching the citizenAid message abroad

If you were caught up in a terrorist attack: would you know what to do?

Help is at hand, or rather in your hand as a smartphone app or paper pocket guide. The citizenAID system has been developed by clinicians from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, using their extensive experience of treating the seriously injured from combat operations over the last 20 years. The free-to-download app draws together public safety advice, including the police ‘run-hide-tell’ message, with context-specific first aid advice to keep the seriously injured alive while waiting for assistance.

Step by Step Guide

Preparation improves performance. CitizenAID guides you to be vigilant and aware of your surroundings. If you find an unattended or suspicious package you are told what to do. While ‘run-hide-tell’ applies to immediate actions in an active shooting or knife attack situation, ‘control then ACT’ (Assess-Communicate-Triage) are the immediate actions following an explosion or vehicle attack. Advice on what to communicate to the emergency services is given in the SLIDE mnemonic (situation, location, injured numbers, dangers, emergency services) and advice on what to say to the paramedics when they arrive is in the MIST mnemonic (mechanism, injuries found, signs and symptoms, treatment given).

Treatment focuses on simple, key skills that will save life and emphasises that if you don’t have any equipment, it is fine to improvise. The charity has designed its own low cost device - the Tourni-Key - that can convert a tie, a scarf or a triangular bandage into a life-saving tourniquet for limb bleeding that cannot be controlled by pressure.

Teaching safe tourniquet use 

Sensitively informing children

Moggy’s coming is a cartoon story book of a cat loose in a school of mice. It introduces the ‘run, hide, tell’ message to young school children between the ages of five and seven. But it is an allegory. It doesn’t talk about terrorism. It allows understanding of the broader principles of what children can do in the unlikely event that someone tries to hurt them. For older primary school children aged from eight to 11, there is the Lion on the loose cartoon series, which uses a picture sequence to prompt discussion. These materials are currently being introduced to schools in Scotland. For 11 – 18 year olds, citizenAID has produced materials for the national STEM initiative (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) that describe the science behind stopping bleeding and the technology of a tourniquet.

Find Out More

The citizenAID website has news and videos that can help you to understand the system. There is also information about training, how to download the app and paper guide, and accessing the online shop.

The authors, Aurélie Hay-David and Captain Jonathan Herron, are citizenAID Ambassadors who work for the charity in an honorary capacity. You can follow them on Twitter: @ThecitizenAID   @citizenAIDscot

 All photos: citizenAid

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