Colombia: A training manikin helps to teach life-saving tips
All the travelling along dusty roads from village to village has taken its toll on ‘Rita’, a training manikin used in community first-aid workshops held by the ICRC in Arauca. More noticeable, though, are the wounds that have been inflicted on her to teach local people how to deal with the typical injuries and illnesses affecting people in conflict areas.
Blanca Agudelo Moreno, a health officer at the ICRC office in Saravena and a first-aid instructor in the field, talks about ‘Rita’ as though she were someone from down the road. This is the approach she uses to help people with no previous training understand the procedures she explains to them.
On this occasion, she had brought ‘Rita’ to a roadside shop in a rural area in Arauquita, and for the whole morning and part of the afternoon, she explained to the community, using practical exercises, what to do in the event of minor burns and fractures. She also taught them what measures can be taken to deal with more serious emergencies, such as injuries sustained in an explosion or bullet wounds. All the solutions proposed by Blanca involve the use of objects that can be found in the community, such as towels, boards and even disposable cups to staunch bleeding.
With the community’s health post closed and the constant threat posed by the armed conflict, the civilian population often has to look after itself. The nearest hospital is over two hours away and the fare to get there is about 20,000 pesos. “These workshops are very useful. Just the other day, a boy burned himself with petrol and people didn’t know what to do. Another time, some people were injured in the fighting, and people in the community had to give them first aid,” explained one of the participants.
Like these 13 local people who attended the talk given by Blanca and her assistant the manikin, 1,080 people living in remote communities received first-aid training from the ICRC and the Colombian Red Cross in 2012. Considering the difficult situation facing the civilian population in Arauca with regard to health-care access, the weary ‘Rita’ still has a lot to do before she can retire.