First Aiders in Remote Locations

1 January 2018

First Aiders in Remote Locations

30/01/2018 by Simon Ritson - Industrial Safety Trainer

Recently I was privileged enough to deliver the Vertical Horizonz First Aid – Level 2 course covering NZQA Unit Standards 6400, 6401 & 6402.

Prior to making the short barge trip across to Matakana I was made aware many of the students held a Pre-Hospital Emergency Care (PHEC) qualifications. I did wonder at the time, especially with so many of the students holding higher first aid qualifications, what the point in them attending the course was, I soon found out.

Matakana is a small, close knit community of around 240 inhabitants, Rangiwaea Island sits just to the East and is accessible during low tide via vehicle, Rangiwaea is home to only 16 people, the majority of the attendees were from Matakana however Rangiwaea was also represented.

In times of emergency, incident or accident the people of Matakana and Rangiwaea know that first aid and good first aid is critical to giving a casualty the best chance of survival. They take the subject seriously and each play a vital part in the islands Emergency Response Team (ERT). 

The course begun with introductions, they were all so humble in what they'd done qualification wise and regarding their hands-on experience. Life and death was clearly an accepted way of life and I felt that an emphasis of practical skills would increase confidence in dealing with first aid situations. Many courses will tell you how to keep someone alive but often don't deliver practically leaving students theoretically enriched but lacking a practical transfer and balance with practical skills.

The students were won over after the first series of practical scenarios, I had ensured we left no one behind in skill and everyone was confident before moving onto the next phase of instruction. The primary survey resulting in the correct placement and use of an AED was the first test, all passed with flying colours and it was obvious that the training had worked as they were actually seeing how the systematic process of the primary survey worked rather than having been rushed through and expected to understand, theoretically.

By the end of the course it was obvious as to why I had PHEC trained students on board, they valued training, good training, they left feeling so much more confident than ever before and looked at any opportunity to train as simply assisting their remote community.

4 Weeks ago, I left Matakana, last week I received an email from the point of contact thanking Vertical Horizonz for the training and divulging a situation that occurred a week after I'd left requiring the skills and drills learned on the course to be utilised. This in a way is the real reward, seeing training used practically rather than simply being stowed away as a qualification or tick in the box.

Our training delivers more than just a qualification, it delivers a product, the product in this case being the people of this remote location, saving lives.