Locals to give SOS help

2016-03-15 06:00

A pilot project to train community members as first responders in emergencies is underway in Ocean View and Masiphumelele.

The project, in partnership with the provincial health department, was started after emergency and ambulance staff noted on arriving at a scene that there weren’t any residents who were able to offer some form of basic medical care while waiting for professional medical help, explains subcouncil chairperson Felicity Purchase.

“They noticed there was no-one trained as first responders in Ocean View and Masi­phu­melele and that there wasn’t first-aid knowledge in the communities,” she says.

The pilot project, which will see about 20 people trained in basic first aid, will look to “train people on what to do until help comes”, Purchase explains.

Finding yourself in a medical emergency without any knowledge can be quite scary, says community worker Marti Weddepohl, especially with a shortage of ambulances servicing the community and clinics that do not operate 24 hours.

“A project like this is long overdue. The more training to empower the community, the better,” she says.

Robert Daniels, spokesperson on emergency medical services of the provincial health department, says these areas were selected to help the department’s response rate.

“We focus on communities where our response rate is negatively affected by factors outside of our control and also communities with fewer response vehicles. This community, for instance, requested the training and other communities are welcome to request training from their local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) station,” he says.

The training will include four modules related to stabilising a patient, CPR, choking and other emergency procedures such as tending to a patient who is bleeding due to stabbing or a gunshot wound, Daniels says.

The training will also teach participants to respond to asthma attacks, epilepsy and blood pressure-related conditions.

“The long-term goal is to have an improved patient outcome as well as reduce the strain on EMS in heavily populated communities,” he says.

However, Weddepohl cautions that the training must include the necessary first-aid tools, such as medical kits and refresher courses, to allow them to be effective. She also believes consideration must be given to a deployment strategy to ensure first responders know when and where to respond.

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