World First Aid Day

September 13th is the international day dedicated to first aid. The Red Cross Burundi is eager to train as many volunteers in first aid as possible. This year is devoted to sensitization; introducing first aid to all Burundians by explaining its importancein the community.-J.Berchmans Siboniyo

 First aid volunteers helping the flood’s victims at Gatunguru in February 2014 ©Iwacu

First aid volunteers helping the flood’s victims at Gatunguru in February 2014 ©Iwacu

The day was celebrated throughout the country under the theme: “Become a hero. Save lives. First aid for all and everywhere.” First aid is the assistance given to any person suffering a sudden illness or injury, with care provided to preserve life, prevent the condition from worsening, or promote recovery. It includes initial intervention in a serious condition prior to professional medical help being available, such as performing mouth to mouth or cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or bandaging of bleeding partswhile awaiting an ambulance, as well as the complete treatment of minor conditions, such as applying a plaster to a cutor treating a minor burn.

According to VitalNzigamasabo, the Head of the Disaster Management Department at Red Cross Burundi, everyone should be trained in first aid. “Natural disasters and accidents strike at unexpected times and places. Millions of people are hurt or die afterinjuries every year due to inadequate response or lack of timely assistance. Taking immediate action and applying the appropriate techniques while waiting for professional help, can considerably reduce deaths and injuries. It would be better if there were at least two trained first aid volunteersin everyworkplace”, he says.
The Red Cross Burundiappreciates the achievements made in Burundi since it started working here. Nzigamasabo indicates that many volunteering teams in different institutions were created and trained from province level to the hills. “The results are satisfying. People of Gatunguru can provide testimony of our volunteers’ training. They were evacuated during the torrential rain of February 9, 2014 thanks to our volunteers.”He also appreciatesthe collaboration with the Civil Protection Police.

However, the status and function of the Red Cross is not known to all. Nzigamasaboindicates that sometimes hospitals bring bills to their institution obliging them to pay the medications for the injured people the Red Cross helped evacuate. Jean Baptiste Hatungimana, the Secretary of the Civil Protection Platform, states that theambulances of the civil protection police are sometimes seized by hospitals blaming them for bringing in injured people without paying for their medical costs. “But that is not our job. It is already a lot of work to evacuate the victims. Other ministries or the victims’ families should come in to help”, he says.

In a response, the Ministry of Solidarity states that victims who are financially vulnerable are cared for, but there is no specific budget for all victims of road accidents or natural disasters.