Trained volunteers from the Relief Service provide first aid at various events (e.g. sporting competitions, music festivals, etc.). They also help out in the area of disaster support and patient transportation. They follow an extensive training course which looks at all first aid topics in detail and teaches advanced first aid, amongst other things. The "Intervention” module is the basic course and deals with the provision of aid, safety, the sanitary aid chain, stretcher transport and standard tents. In the initial phase, this course was scientifically substantiated by CEBaP and validated by the Medical Committee of Humanitarian Services. The other courses will be featured at a later date (e.g. the 'Care' module).
The psychosocial network of the Red Cross ensures qualitative and well-organised care in the aftermath of disasters. The Social Intervention Service (SIS) offers specific psychological support in the acute phase of aid provision. In order to be able to provide the most effective psychological first aid, the scientific basis of various international guidelines was studied. A specific search was also carried out for scientific studies which showed the effectiveness of certain forms of psychosocial assistance in disaster situations. On the basis of the information gathered, it was established that more field research is needed in this area. The existing guidelines, based on a worldwide consensus of experts, do however offer a solid foundation for the SIS course material, pending more information from field studies.
By developing an evidence-based guideline (“Evidence-Based Bridging the Gap Project”), we want to increase the educational and development opportunities of socially vulnerable children by giving them extra supervision at school or in the family home. The Bridging the Gap project currently operates in ± 35 departments in Flanders, in more than 100 schools and is supported by 200 volunteers. The extra support that we want to offer volunteers via this guideline consists of more didactic material to help toddlers and primary school children to learn things in a fun way. In other words, the guideline contains recommendations that will help volunteers on the Bridging the Gap project in their choice of activities. These activities may include: help with reading and maths, going to the library with a child, playing board games or doing jigsaws with a child, etc.
Humanitarian aid is frequently offered on the basis of decisions taken as the result of general consensus and traditions. To improve humanitarian interventions, minimum standards and indicators for humanitarian aid have been developed. However, these indicators, whose purpose is to show whether the minimum standards are being met, are not based on proven effective interventions, but on consensus. CEBaP has developed a systematic review to collate scientific evidence for the indicator which says that victims of a disaster should each receive at least 15 litres of water a day, for drinking, cooking and cleaning. Of 3,053 articles, 6 studies were selected; none of them revealed any evidence for this indicator. We were however able to conclude that the more water a person has, the better the health effects. Our general conclusion is that more research is needed in the future, during and after disasters, to provide a scientific basis for this and other indicators. This will result in more efficient and cost-effective humanitarian aid.
After the development of the European (EFAM) and African (AFAM) first aid guidelines, work was started in 2013 on developing evidence-based first aid guidelines for India (IFAM), in collaboration with the Indian Red Cross. These guidelines are partly based on the scientific evidence already collected in our other first aid projects. In addition, information from scientific studies carried out in India was also gathered, as was scientific evidence for a number of typical Indian customs, such as the use of papaya on burns and drinking coconut milk to alleviate diarrhea. In early 2014 a panel of Indian experts will meet in New Delhi to validate the material.
CEBaP carried out a systematic literature review, looking for the scientific proof behind the blood group diet: a diet that is adapted to the blood group in order to improve health. The systematic review, in which the health effects of this diet could not be shown, was published in 2013 in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. This topic then received a great deal of press attention, including an article in Knack and De Standaard. The international press also devoted space to this research. Articles are available on the websites of Reuters Health, Fox News, Medical Daily, The Lempert Report, MDLinx, amongst others.
Before giving blood, donors fill in a medical questionnaire which is then discussed with the donor centre doctor. The doctor also measures the pulse and blood pressure of the candidate donor. This procedure protects the health of both the recipient and the donor of the blood or blood components. In this context, the Blood Service of the Belgian Red Cross-Flanders wondered whether people suffering from low blood pressure could donate whole blood, without prejudicing their health. To answer this question, a systematic search of all the available literature was undertaken. Of 8305 articles, 10 studies were selected. The research was unable to show that people with low blood pressure are at a higher risk of side effects when donating blood than donors with normal blood pressure. These results were summarised in a scientific article which can be requested from CEBaP.