By Anthony Gadenne, DRG Team Leader
It has been a very busy but rewarding few days for Team 3.
Team 3 arrived to join Nathan and Kate on Wednesday consisting of myself, Tom, Ben, Rhiannon, Paris and Kamarra. The first task was to begin the training of the Rohingya Volunteer Ambulance Network – a group of 30 volunteer Rohingya refugees that are willing and able to be trained and instructed in providing basic first aid and transport (usually in the form of a stretcher) to the surrounding community.
R-VAN Training Day 1
When we arrived the trainees were already in place in an area that had been set aside for the training. They had constructed a tarpaulin and bamboo roof and were sitting in their teams ready to go.
Working through our interpreters we quickly progressed through the basics such as DRSABC of First Aid. The speed at which the volunteers picked up the training was a direct reflection of their enthusiasm and of how much they wanted to be there. As the day progressed we covered CPR and improvised stretcher making so that by the end of the day they could do simple assessments and if required conduct CPR on the move with their new improvised stretchers made of nothing more than a tarpaulin and bamboo.
R-VAN Training Days 2 / 3
We started Day 2 doing a revision of the previous days activities. It was awesome to see how much the volunteers had retained. We moved onto giving out the uniforms and medkits that would be utilised by the teams, we were not prepared for how excited they were to be given these.
I’d like to thank all of you who have supported us both financially and personally. It’s a moment like this that shows us where financial support in particular goes. These kits were donated to us by Survival Emergency Solutions plus ten of our supporters who donated to buy the kits. We could not have afforded to purchase even half the amount given how strictly we manage our funds to enable us in-field. At the same time I know we have a small group of people in Singapore who are currently working to raise funds for us. And today we received a donation from US actress Susan Sarandon, through our good friend CoryT who worked with Nath, Kate and Strunky in the first few days. It’s very motivating for us out here to know that people in Australia and all over the world, are following what we are doing, caring enough to comment on our posts with words of encouragement and recognition and in some cases, even donating some of their own hard-earned money.
We began the next step in the training, teaching them bandaging and slings. As soon as we began the training another call came out to help an old man that could not move from his hut. We decided this was a good opportunity to employ one of our newly trained teams to go and stretcher him to the MSF clinic for assessment and aid. The trainees did an amazing job of their very first patient pick-up and stretcher carry.
Whilst the training was going on, we set up a small treating station while some of the team went out to do follow-up treatments of those we’d already seen. The weather has been hot and the cramped conditions of treating people in their homes is difficult to say the least. We treated sick babies who wouldn’t feed and were suffering from dehydration, elderly people with dehydration but it was mostly old bullet wounds or operations that were still in the process of healing. Cleaning and redressing these wounds is a long and delicate process.
We visited the woman who Nathan wrote about two posts ago who’d had no post-op treatment after the tumor removal, she is starting to heal well.
R-VAN Training Day 4
When we arrived, our volunteers were there – ready and waiting for us and they excitedly showed us how they had already applied their new found skills and had treated an old lady that had injured her ankle, on their way to the training this morning. They are at a point where they now compete to be the best and fastest in their bandaging, splinting and stretchering skills amongst the teams. Building on what the teams had already learned we covered Paediatric CPR, and choking drills, followed by lower limb splinting and protruding wounds care.
Amongst this we treated a boy that had a perforated ear drum and a seven day old infant that had not been feeding. One of our newly trained teams went to pick up an elderly lady that was feverish, lethargic and confused. She was treated, stretchered and transported to the hospital by the team, for further care.
On route to the camp today we picked up a news team from Al Jazeera News and had them follow us around for the day.
Today was our last day of official teaching and testing to complete the training. The Rohingyan teams did extremely well and the day finished with Certificates and ID Badges being awarded.
As always there were multiple other things going on such as a retrieval of an elderly man that could not walk and treatment of more sick children.
The Ripple Effect
There is still so much to do as not only do we need to keep looking after the people we have treated but more people continue to arrive every day. We are still the only ones going out to the people to treat them but as a single entity we can only do so much. It’s kind of like throwing a single pebble into a vast lake. The ripples of effect surround the person being helped and those around them, but then quickly disperse.
However now that we have trained up to 30 others we have thirty pebbles that can have a much wider and long reaching effect into that vast lake, that will last long after we leave to go home in a week’s time.