Learning to Save Lives
By Marion Cherrak, SOIL Cap-Haitien Project Coordinator
Haiti is a country prone to seismic events and hurricanes, as we saw in the early 2000s when four massive tropical storms were followed by the tragic 2010 earthquake. Soil erosion, together with high rainfall, can lead to landslides. In addition, health facilities are often overwhelmed with the number of people that need care, even apart from emergency situations.
At SOIL, we are glad to have on our team a former scout (Charles), nurse (Algate), and Emergency Response Coordinator (Emmanuel). Thus, in addition to the development of a contingency plan that outlines the response to emergency events, we try to give yearly emergency training to our staff.
After a month of preparation, we gathered the whole staff for a training day. We reviewed the SOIL emergency plan, practiced how to respond during simulations of both an earthquake and hurricane, and finally studied first aid basics.
During the first shake of an earthquake, you just have a few seconds to make the right decision. Thus we detailed what actions we should take if an earthquake were to happen. Each staff also went home with homework of analyzing their house. Which part is the most earthquake-resistant? Can that table support falling concrete blocks? Can I run outside from the kitchen in 3 seconds? Am I living in an area close to the sea, prone to tsunamis?
As far as first aid, you can do a lot with a little imagination and simple equipment as long as you know the basics. Cardboard and two rope pieces can stabilize a fracture. With two wood pieces, some rope and two t-shirts, you can make a solid stretcher. Knowledge of how to approach a wounded person, analyze the situation, and do chest compressions can make a big difference.
We aren’t paramedics or doctors, but with our new knowledge, we can contribute to saving lives, have better reactions in emergency events, and facilitate the transfer of the wounded to proper health care facilities. We hope we never have reason to use these skills, but we are glad that SOIL has prepared us in case we do!