First Aid treatment for a Snake Bite

There over 30 venomous snakes found in Vietnam including: Cobras, Vipers, Krait, Keelbacks and Coral Snakes. Along with the Cobras species, the Viper family of snakes are amongst the world’s most venomous and dangerous. Their proximity to humans is based upon the waste produced by man that attracts rodents, which is their main food source.


Signs and symptoms:

  • Two puncture wounds
  • Swelling and redness around the wounds
  • Pain at the bite site
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomitingand nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Sweating and salivating
  • Numbness in the face and limbs

Note: Some venomous snakes also cause symptoms specific to their type.


  • Call 115 and get emergency medical help as soon as possible
  • Note the time of the bite
  • Keep the casualty calm and still as movement can cause the venom to travel more quickly through the body
  • Position the casualty so that the bite is at or below the level of the heart
  • Remove constricting clothing and jewellery from the surrounding area of the bite in case of swelling
  • Remove shoes if the leg or foot is bitten
  • Do not allow the casualty to walk, transport by vehicle
  • Clean the wound, but do not flush with water
  • Cover with a clean, dry dressing
  • Take a picture of the snake if possible, do not handle or kill it.

The severity depends on the location of the bite and the age and health of the victim. If the bite is not serious, the doctor may simply clean the wound and give the victim a tetanus vaccine. If the situation is life threatening, the doctor may administer antivenom. This is a substance created with snake venom to counter the snake bite symptoms, which is injected into the casualty. The sooner the antivenom is used, the more effective it will be.

First aid myths

There are also several outdated first aid techniques that are now believed to be unhelpful or even harmful:

  • Do not use a tourniquet
  • Do not cut into the snake bite
  • Do not use a cold compress or ice on the bite
  • Do not give the person any medications unless directed by a doctor
  • Do not raise the area of the bite above the victim’s heart
  • Do not attempt to suck the venom out by mouth
  • Do not use a pump suction device. These devices were formerly recommended for pumping out snake venom, but it’s now believed that they are more likely to do harm than good.

Drowning doesn’t look like drowning

We’ve all seen drowning in the movies – and it’s easy to think how it might look in real life. In reality, drowning can appear quite differently.

If you see someone in the water shouting for help and waving their arms, this is called ‘aquatic distress’. This person may be very near to drowning – they need help. But someone who is actually in the process of drowning looks very different.

Drowning can be silent. It is possible for someone to drown next to other people unnoticed, simply because the people around fail to recognise the signs of drowning.

The signs of drowning

It’s important that everyone is aware of the signs of drowning:

Head back

Their head is either tilted back with mouth open, or low in the water with their mouth at water level

Upright position

Look to see if they are vertical in the water and not using their legs

Panicked eyes

Their eyes are closed or, if open, they appear glassy and empty. They struggle to focus or hold eye contact

Panicked face

People often hyperventilate or gasp for air. If they have long hair it may be over their forehead or eyes, instead of pushed back from their face

Tell-tale movements

Some people look like they are climbing an invisible ladder, trying to stay buoyant. Or they may be stressed, trying to swim in a particular direction and not making headway.

What can you do?

It is human instinct to want to help other people in distress, and this often leads people who witness drowning to enter the water themselves to assist. Unfortunately this also leads to a lot of cases of multiple drownings, which can escalate the situation and put other people at risk as well. If you see someone who is drowning, call for help and locate a rescue aid. Do not put yourself in danger.

Sources: RNLI (


RIP Currents – how to identify and escape a RIP

Summer is coming in Vietnam, and as a result the beaches are getting busier. Many more people will be enjoying a dip in the sea. When visiting the beach, make sure you know how to stay safe and identify a RIP! RIP currents are responsible for many drowning cases.

What is a RIP?

Rip currents are strong currents of water that flow away from the shore. They are generally powerful in larger surf, but you should never underestimate the power of the water. They can also be found around river mouths, estuaries and man-made structures.

They can flow faster than 4mph – that’s faster than an Olympic swimmer!

Source: VN Express

How can you sport a RIP?

The things to look for are:

  • deeper, dark-coloured water;
  • fewer breaking waves;
  • a rippled surface surrounded by smooth waters;
  • and anything floating out to sea or foamy, discoloured, sandy, water flowing out beyond the waves.

Rips don’t always show these signs all at once!

Source: VN Express

What to do if you get caught in a RIP

STAY CALM – a RIP current will not pull you under the water. Panicking and trying to fight the current can be fatal. Sometimes the current will carry you back to shore.

CALL FOR HELP – If there are lifeguards or other people on the beach, you can raise an arm and shout for help.

SWIM PARALLEL TO THE SHORE – RIP channels are narrow – swim parallel to the shore. Use breaking waves to help you get back to shore.

Never try to swim against a RIP!

When you visit a beach, make sure you learn information about the hazards specific to the area.





The STA and VSLC working in partnership

We are proud to announce that VSLC is formally working in partnership with the Swimming Teacher’s Association (STA), UK.

The STA was founded in 1932, and with over 9,000 members it is the world’s largest independent swimming teaching and lifesaving organisation. The objective of the STA is “the preservation of human life by the teaching of swimming, lifesaving and survival techniques.”

The partnership agreement between the STA and VSLC will help assist VSLC to achieve its objective of developing the highest standards in swimming teaching, lifesaving and water safety in Vietnam.

Drowning – The Silent Epidemic : The WHO’s Recommendations.

Globally, drowning today has a similar burden as diseases such as diarrhea and measles has in the 1970s and 1980s. It is referred to as the silent epidemic. Many people would be surprised to learn that drowning kills at least 372,000 people globally – that’s at least 40 people every hour. Around 90% of this intolerably high number of deaths fall within low and middle income countries. Unsurprisingly, it is children and adolescents who are most likely to drown. Globally, the death toll is nearly two-thirds as high as malnutrition and in excess of half of that of malaria – yet to date drowning has not attracted the same level of prevention efforts.

In Vietnam, drowning is a huge issue. The Vietnamese government estimates the number of drowning at approximately 9 per day, while studies from international organisations suggest that the figures may be as high as 35 per day. Gaining accurate, up to date statistics on drowning in Vietnam is a challenge, but even at the most conservative estimates drowning is a leading cause of death among children in Vietnam. Relative to its impact, drowning is a vastly neglected area of public health – both globally and within Vietnam.

So how can this huge burden be reduced? The World Health Organisation’s Global Report on Drowning (2014), suggests ten key measures:

  1. Install barriers controlling access to water
  2. Provide safe places (for example, a crèche) away from water for pre-school children, with capable child care.
  3. Teach school-age children basic swimming, water safety and safe rescue skills.
  4. Train bystanders in safe rescue and resuscitation.
  5. Strengthen public awareness and highlight the vulnerability of children.
  6. Set up and enforce safe boating, shipping and ferry regulations.
  7. Build resilience and manage flood risks and other hazards locally and nationally.
  8. Coordinate drowning prevention efforts with those of other sectors and agendas.
  9. Develop a national water safety plan.
  10. Address priority research questions with well-designed studies.

Sources: WHO – Global Report on Drowning – Preventing a Leading Killer. The Alliance of Safe Children.

Skills fade and first aid

We believe knowledge of first aid and lifesaving skills are real really valuable skills for life. The ability to recognise a medical emergency, provide first aid treatment and get advanced medical help promptly can help save lives.

‘Skill fade’ is defined as ‘the decay of ability or adeptness over a period of non-use’ – and it is very relevant to first aid. In a 2007 study to determine the retention of CPR and AED skills of cabin crew, 35 cabin crew were assessed on their skills 12 months after their initial assessment. Out of the 35 participants, 18 performed chest compressions at an incorrect site, only 13 achieved the correct depth, and only 20 placed the AED pads in the correct place. This is not an isolated study – there are several additional studies that show how practical first aid skills fade over time

So what can be done to stop skills fade?

Opinion amongst experts is that refresher training should occur every six to 12 months.
Regular training helps reinforce knowledge!

Skills are better retained after facilitated, relevant and practical training – as opposed to lecture style learning.
Hands on, practical training wherever possible is less likely to result in skills fade.

First aid competence is built up through a continuous process of learning, with regular refresher training.
Regular training not only reduces skills fade, but also helps to build confidence to deal with emergency situations when they occur.

By ensuring that training is regular, up to date and practical, the risk of skills fade can be reduced. It’s vital that not only are skills kept up to date, but also that first aiders have the confidence to use these skills when they are required.

Heart attacks and how they can be treated – and it’s not ‘cough CPR!’

The rumour of ‘Cough CPR’ to treat a heart attack has been spread around the internet for several years now – and we’ve now noticed that it is also in Vietnamese. The bottom line is there is no medical evidence that this works – we want to set the facts straight on heart attacks to save lives.

What is a heart attack?

A heart attack happens when there is a sudden loss of blood flow to a part of your heart muscle. This can lead to cardiac arrest – where your heart stops pumping blood around your body.

How can you recognise a heart attack?

Heart attack symptoms vary from one person to another. The most common signs of a heart attack are:

  • chest pain: tightness, heaviness, pain or a burning feeling in your chest
  • pain in arms, neck, jaw, back or stomach: for some people, the pain or tightness is severe, while other people just feel uncomfortable
  • sweating
  • feeling light-headed
  • become short of breath
  • feeling nauseous or vomiting.

How can you help?

A heart attack is life-threatening. Urgent medical help is needed. Do not delay – call for an ambulance immediately.

Does ‘Cough CPR’ work?

‘Cough CPR’ has been spread around the internet for a number of years now, and we have recently noticed it in Vietnamese. There is no medical evidence to support ‘Cough CPR’, which suggests you can help yourself by coughing vigorously if you are having a heart attack and are alone.

The British Heart Foundation say “A heart attack is when the blood supply to your heart muscle is interrupted; this is most commonly due to a blood clot.

A heart attack can lead to a cardiac arrest, when your heart stops pumping blood around your body. You would become unconscious, and without immediate CPR (chest compressions and rescue breaths), you would die.”

So what can I do?

  1. Learn how to recognise a heart attack, and call for medical help immediately.
  2. Learn CPR and first aid – CPR buys time by keeping oxygenated blood flowing to the vital organs. Make sure you learn from a provider that follows the latest international, evidence based guidelines.
  3. Educate – do not spread misinformation! Many people sharing the ‘cough CPR’ story are no doubt doing it to try and help – but misinformation in life-threatening situations can costs lives. Make sure you know what you are spreading is correct.

You can contact VSLC for advice on training here.

Golf in Vietnam

Why is first aid training important at Vietnam’s golf courses?

Over the past decade, golf has really taken off in Vietnam. There are a number of world class golf courses and the country is rapidly gaining increasing recognition as a prime location for the sport. As of October 2015, there were approximately 38 golf courses in the country, but another 65 are at some stage in the planning, development or construction phases. And why not? Vietnam has warm weather, plenty of sunshine and locations that have stunning potential for golf courses. As the Vietnamese economy continues to develop, it’s likely the domestic demand for golf courses is going to continue to grow significantly.

Golf can bring a load of health benefits – it burns calories, gets people outside in the fresh air, and is general a low-risk injury sport. Yet according to a study by the American Heart Association, golf courses are among the most common places for a heart attack to occur. In the USA alone, 3,000 golfers die every year on golf courses. 95% of all heart attacks that occur on golf courses are fatal. There are a number of reasons for this, including age/gender profiles, as well as time taken to get medical help.

With clear evidence that golf courses can be high risk places for heart attacks, what can be done to reduce the risk to Vietnam’s increasing number of golfers?

The Chain of Survival

The Chain of Survival are the four key steps needed to ensure the best outcomes in the event of a heart attack:

  1. Early recognition – early recognition and call for medical help.
  2. Early CPR – this buys time, keeping oxygenated blood flowing to the bodies vital organs.
  3. Early defibrillation – Defibrillation is the only way to restart the heart in cardiac arrest.
  4. Post resuscitation care – to restore the quality of life.

If a defibrillator is used and effective CPR is performed within 3-5 minutes of cardiac arrest, survival chances can increase from 6% to 74%.

Simple, cost effective training, combined with the appropriate equipment and procedures, can make a huge difference to the chance of survival for heart attack victims.  As golf grows in Vietnam, course owners have the opportunity to learn from the evidence gathered in other countries and keep their golfers protected.

You can learn more about VSLC’s CPR and AED course here, and you can get in touch to book training.

Learning to swim is just like riding a bike

A perfect analogy for Vietnam, as it seems everyone in Vietnam can ride a bike. Swimming and bike riding both have several things in common:

  1. You have to overcome your fears when you start
  2. Your body has to learn to balance
  3. You have to learn basic rules in order to be safe
  4. Fundamental skills are required before you can think about sporting competitions
  5. Both are skills for life

You have to overcome your fears when you start

In swimming there are several fears: the fear of drowning, the fear of getting my face wet, the fear of going under just to name a few; with riding a bike the fear of falling off, how to stop, help I’m going too fast etc. Overcoming your fears is an important part of learning, but be aware of becoming overconfident. Having a healthy respect for your environment will help keep you safe.

Your body has to learn to balance

The ability to balance is the most essential skill for riding a bike, this can be assisted with stabilisers when we first start. Similarly with swimming, finding your balance in water is an important part of learning, which is why learning to float is so important. Buoyancy may be used to assist you – our water stabilisers.

You have to learn basic rules in order to be safe

The rules of the road when riding a bike, the safety and hygiene rules at the pool when swimming and basic water safety knowledge when going out and about.

Fundamental skills are required before you can think about sporting competitions

Unlike other sports riding a bike and swimming require the learning of fundamental mind and body skills before you can consider the sporting options that are available, which are many in both disciplines.

Both are skills for life

Especially in Vietnam, where riding a bike, motorised or otherwise is the main mode of transport and drowning is one of the country’s big problems.


The skills and mind-set required to achieve this are similar to that required to learn to swim. If you can ride a bike you can learn to swim. Now is the time to take the challenge, you are never too old to learn!

Garry Seghers
Technical Director

The Health Benefits of Swimming – a skill for life

Swimming – a Skill for Life – it could even save your life


There are lots of benefits of swimming. The recommended level of exercise to improve the body’s efficiency is a minimum of 30 minutes sustained moderate activity five times a week.

For Children

The National Association of Sports and Physical Education in the UK recommends that a child from 2 years onward should, each day, get at least 30 minutes of structured physical activity (adult-led); get at least 60 minutes unstructured physical activity (free play) and not be inactive for more than 1 hour at a time (except for sleeping).

In General

Swimming is one of the most beneficial forms of exercise, regular swimming will help to maintain and improve:

  • The cardio vascular system
  • Lung capacity and function
  • Joint mobility
  • Muscles and their function
  • Stamina
  • Coordination
  • It may also help control body weight

Just being immersed in water will make your heart work harder due to the water pressure on the body. When swimming you have to breathe improving the lung efficiency. Being suspended in water takes pressure off of your joints allowing freedom of movement. The coordinated repetitive movements of swimming develop muscle memory, producing fluid movements and a feeling of being one with the water. Depending on the intensity and regularity of the swimming programme that you endeavour to participate in will influence the ability of swimming to help with weight loss.

From just enjoying a gentle swimming session a couple of times a week you will definitely feel the benefits and you never know it could save your life by improving your health or preventing you from drowning as a worst case scenario.

Swimming is suitable for all ages, from baby through to old age, water does not discriminate, it gives freedom to people with disabilities and all can participate. Swimming is great as a social event, mass participation swimming is growing in popularity and I recommend it to everyone.

Garry Seghers DSTA