A school after an attack in Kunduz, Afghanistan (Picture: PA).
Humanitarian

New 'Blast Guide' Aims To Minimise Child Warzone Casualties

The handbook is designed for medics in areas of conflict who may have no specialist paediatric training.

A school after an attack in Kunduz, Afghanistan (Picture: PA).

A school after an attack in Kunduz, Afghanistan (Picture: PA).

Aid agency Save the Children has launched a campaign to give better treatment to children injured by explosive devices in conflict zones.

The charity says the latest research shows that children are more likely to die from blast wounds than adults.

It is promoting a handbook (the Paediatric Blast Injury Field Manual), designed for medics in war zones who may have no specialist paediatric training, offering step-by-step instructions to cover situations such as resuscitating children on the battlefield, saving limbs and psychological care.

A village near Ghazni in Afghanistan (Picture: US Army).
A village near Ghazni in Afghanistan (Picture: US Army).

James Denselow, head of the conflict and humanitarian team at Save the Children, said children were "dramatically more exposed" to explosive weapons due to the proliferation of militia and armed groups and increasingly longer conflicts which were also heaping pressure on medics in the field.

"The fact that we now have the world's first ever paediatric blast manual is a shocking testimony to the failure of adults across this planet to better protect children in conflict."

"Unfortunately with so many children living in conflict zones today it's more needed than ever," he added.

The handbook is built to withstand hostile environments, is readable when the light is poor and contains instructions on how to resuscitate children on the battlefield, save limbs and provide psychosocial rehabilitation.

Mr Denselow said teams were at the beginning of a "particularly macabre" journey and are hoping to roll the manual out in Yemen, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Iraq, having distributed copies in Syria.

Video: Dr Reavley speaks to Forces News about his experiences.

Dr Paul Reavley, who was part of the team who wrote the book, said children suffer from injuries that "are harder to recognise".

He said while working in Afghanistan, children made up "at times ten per cent" of his patients.

He also recalled one harrowing experience when a child had been hit by an IED and "lost three of their limbs", which he said made him think "'we're back in Afghanistan and here are these injuries again'". 

"It's a fairly brutal experience to see the sights, the sounds and the smells of a child that's been injured in that way in your trauma bay," Dr Reavley said. 

The charity is calling for a global paediatric trauma register that will ensure more thoroughly recorded data and help first responders learn more "about what keeps children alive".

He also said it was important to consider producing similar guides for non-medics, who may come across victims of explosions and terrorist attacks in their daily lives.