Bites and stings can transmit diseases, cause wounds that can become infected, and in some cases, can cause an allergic reaction. Their prevalence across all parts of the world means that they are an important topic to cover in first aid education for most populations and contexts.
The updated First Aid, Resuscitation and Education Guidelines of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC, 2020) reflect the evidence regarding specific first aid clinical actions and pair the evidence regarding first aid education. This approach was designed so that users of the Guidelines are easily able to apply them through adaptation to relevant learner contexts, contextualization to different levels of resources and medical care, and local implementation strategies.
Educational approach and adaptation
The role of the educator in adapting content to the learner context is crucial for this topic since the variety and level of risk in different countries, and in different localities within countries is so great. In general, and across all levels of risk and exposure, education needs to focus initially on prevention measures such as covering the body exposed to possible bites and stings; and then on recognition and fast action to manage pain and to reduce the possibility of infection and/or allergic reaction. Visual aids can support learning on this topic to identify reactions which need urgent treatment.
Discussion and conclusions
The immense variety of stinging and biting agents, coupled with the equally great variety of symptoms (in terms of manifestations and severity), makes “Bites and Stings” perhaps one of the most difficult subjects to teach in first aid. Inevitably, there are significant gaps in the evidence base and therefore educators need to retain a principled approach, being clear that they cannot cover all eventualities, but that prevention, fast recognition and treatment can be critical, particularly where there is limited or no access to EMS.
Ioannidis, P., & Clucas, W. (2021). First aid guidelines for Bites and Stings: Educational Approach & Adaptation. https://oaks.kent.edu/node/16724
Ioannidis, Panagiotis, and William Clucas. 2021. “First Aid Guidelines for Bites and Stings: Educational Approach & Adaptation”. https://oaks.kent.edu/node/16724.
Ioannidis, P., and W. Clucas. First Aid Guidelines for Bites and Stings: Educational Approach & Adaptation. 2 Sept. 2021, https://oaks.kent.edu/node/16724.