THE Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS) held its belated World First Aid Day National Commemorations in Gweru amidst growing calls for first aid training to be extended to all spheres of society.
By Michael Gwarisa
The commemorations ran under the ‘Lifelong First Aid Learning.’ The event is celebrated every second Saturday of September is an act of humanitarian empowerment and reaches a wider public audience.
Officiating at the ceremony, Mr Munesuishe Munodawafa, Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe Managing Director said, “We are living in trying times and every day we read about people dying mostly in road traffic accidents and this heightens the need for people to be trained in First Aid so that anyone who arrives at an accident scene before the ambulance can render lifesaving First Aid.
“First Aid becomes critical because every second counts in a crisis and professional medical help may not always be immediately available. And so, by taking action through effective first aid, many lives can be saved and impact of injuries lessened.”
He added that trained communities can provide basic medical care to treat minor injuries and preserve life until professional medical help arrives
“We strongly subscribe to the notion that first aid is a humanitarian act, vital to supporting healthy and resilient communities. It should be accessible to everyone, everywhere without discrimination. First aid is not only about technique, but also about our capacity to deal with the person in distress.
“For all the years I have been following the Zimbabwe Red Cross and your work. I can confidently attest that you have pushed first aid with a lot of passion, expertise and innovation and I have always admired that. Keep up the good work. So as we celebrate this day we also want to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to Zimbabwe Red Cross for consistently providing sterling First Aid training and services. As the Road Traffic Council we benefit immensely from your services,” he said.
The Zimbabwe Red Cross is part of the 192 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies which are the world’s leading providers and trainers in first aid. Every year, through International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement the Red Cross trains over 23 million people in first aid—empowering them with the skills to save lives.
Zimbabwe Red Cross Society National President Mar Edson Mlambo said First Aid was fast becoming important with overwhelming evidence that in emergencies, 90 percent of lives are saved are saved by people with first aid training.
“You can be a hero by learning and providing first aid when the time comes. As a take away from this event may you make a conscious decision to make First Aid a priority in the sphere that you operate from and influence as many people from community as you can.
“First aid used to be recognized as the domain of medical or para-medical personnel but today, all experts recognize that the general public must be trained in first aid, because it is effective in saving lives, improving the chances of survival and minimizing the consequences of a road crash or heart attack. As ZRCS we have made great strides in populating First Aid and will not stop until everyone has embraced it,” said Mr Mlambo.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society Secretary General Mr Elias Hwenga said First aid remains an integral part of a broader development approach within the Red Cross which aims at reducing the impact of disasters, the number of deaths and illnesses, and at increasing local communities’ and civil society’s capacities.
“This year’s theme ‘Lifelong First Aid Learning’ is testimony that First aid knowledge should be available to everyone because we are all capable of saving lives. As Red Cross, our first port of call and at the heart of our mission is dissemination of first aid education and practices to make communities more self-reliant, safe and resilient.
“We pride ourselves as a leading service provider of that very important part of humanity and our training programme is designed in such a way that we offer our students a comprehensive and all-encompassing curriculum. Working closely with our communities and building a safer world through using first aid with expertise and humility has become our single most important mission. Indeed, our value is for humanity, not for us as individuals. We do this by gaining trust and being accountable to our stakeholders,” said Mr Hwenga.
He added that every, World First Aid Day promotes the accessibility of first aid knowledge and raises awareness about the importance of first aid. It also provides an opportunity for us as a society to highlight our important role in providing high quality first aid trainings and skills to save lives around the world.
“We need to collectively build a clear plan and framework to make our words and statements concrete for our volunteers while adapting them to the changing realities. What drives our motivation as Zimbabwe Red Cross is the fact that every life counts and every person deserves medical assistance without discrimination. This makes learning first aid important. First aid education has no particular preferences and embraces all ages because we believe all of us gathered here have the capacity to save lives and make the environment safer.”
Besides providing life-saving skills, First Aid also helps develop participants’ empathy, self-confidence and willingness to act. First Aid education is delivered in flexible ways of learning which include face-to-face training, blended or using dedicated apps.
“As a take away First Aid should be learnt throughout life and I encourage you to join efforts to ensure everyone learns how to respond in an emergency situation involving children and older adults. We can all become First Aid heroes.”