Community as First Responders

Chandrika took two long pieces of bamboo and a bedsheet and placed them on the floor of her house. In a matter of fewer than two minutes, she made a strong stretcher that can be used to safely carry an ill or aged person during an emergency situation. She learned this skill from a one-day training programme organised by IGSSS on first aid with an aim to equip communities to deal with hazards and emergencies. “Rather than sitting in the class and listening to the lecture, all the participants got the chance to participate actively. Along with the theory class, the experts did a detailed demonstration and asked each participant to repeat the same. For instance, we were asked to make the stretcher by ourselves in the class. So, we will not forget it ever,” she said.

Manoj K of the International Red Cross Society, who took the class, opined that the training was a huge success. “Being villagers, the participants were initially reluctant to actively take part in the class. But we could break the ice easily and most of the participants were keen to understand and learn the skills. They had questions on several things and we could clear it,” he said.

Simi, Chandrika’s neighbour and another participant said, “I live in a flood-prone area. During heavy rains, we used to shift to safer places and the most difficult thing during the flood is shifting aged parents. The stretchers are extremely useful in such situations.” She added that the most useful thing taught by the expert from the International Red Cross Society was the way to handle little children during choking.

During the training programme, community members were given training on providing first aid to victims of snakebite, burn injuries and drowning. The participants were also trained in handling incidences like choking and to provide Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Altogether, 80 people from two panchayats benefitted from the programme with the majority being women.