This past week and a half we (Hailey Parr and Robin) had the opportunity to coordinate a first aid course for 33 staff at the Matoya/Save a Life Clinic and teachers from a local school.
One challenge was thinking about how well/if first aid interventions that we use at home were would translate here because higher levels of health care are lacking in certain ways. For example, we know that CPR on an adult having a heart attack is very ineffective without the use of a defibrillator (here and at home). Defibrillators are non-existent in the communities here and I am not sure how widely used they are even in the hospital. Other barriers here include the lack of ambulance attendants (there is an ambulance but it is only manned by a nurse if there is someone available, otherwise there is just a driver) and the fact that most of these people will not have access to gloves (we do not want them to risk exposing themselves to bodily fluids). We were pretty stoked when we found out how to make a glove out of a clean plastic bag!
We had a lot of questions which Dr. Nilene and Lehana (of the Matoya/Save a Life Clinic) were able to field. They also helped us select and make our topics relevant to the setting. Something we needed to add that you don’t see in Canada was how to handle if a spitting cobra spat into your eyes (hint: don’t open them, there are crystals in their spit that will scratch your eyeballs!). Another thing we considered was what kind of household materials people could use as resources for splinting, burns, and bleeds. Some of these items included brooms, pieces of chitengues (the traditional skirts worn here), clothes, large wooden spoons, and brooms. It was fun being creative with this.
The topics we covered included Adult/Child and Infant CPR and Choking, Burns, Bleeds, Broken Bones, and Snake and Bug Bites. Priya, Jeevan, Rachael, Jackie, Kyle, Hayley (Muss), Jaime and Sydney taught these topics and then manned 6 different stations where the participants got hands on practice and supervision. Big shout out to Jeevan and Jackie who made it despite being sick, and to our teacher Lisa for taking care of the Adult CPR station! We modified our stations to fit into the time slots, answered some great/funny questions, and ensured that the participants were having a great time while learning. We were happy to see so many people enjoying themselves and learning.
In the end it was a great opportunity to give back to a community which has done a lot for us. We hope that the skills that they have learned will be practical and useful in the future should they need them.
Hailey, Robin, Jeevan, Priya, Kyle, Hayley, Sydney, Jaime, Rachael, and Jackie