The lifesavers of Chibombo
How a group of women in Zambia are responding to tragedy in their community
By Nalukui Siame, Country Manager for First Aid Africa in Zambia
Emergencies occur everywhere regardless of the level of development or socio-economic circumstances. For a community in Chibombo, located in Zambia’s central province, road traffic accidents are a common trend with the 142km tarred stretch connecting Lusaka and Kabwe towns been labeled an accident hotspot attracting government and international organisations’ attention.
While first aid care is applied at the scene of the accident to avoid death or severe disability, the common reaction from most passersby and community members at an accident scene in Zambia is to immediately transport the casualty to the nearest health facility: in the case of Chibombo, Liteta Hospital or Kabwe General Hospital. Needless to mention, this intervention, while highly commended by most, proved to pose more danger to the casualty than most people realize.
Chibombo market first aiders with their certificates
In response to this dilemma, First Aid Africa Zambia through funding from the Scottish Government, and in collaboration with the Vice-President’s office trained 100 women as first responders, with the training providing basic first aid skills in handling casualties at the scene of accident and evacuation to the nearest health facility.
The course was initially offered to women because their market stands are about 8 meters away from the highway, which in most cases makes them first responders to the casualties but it also poses direct risk to their own safety as they conduct their business. This training was conducted over a period of two months at the local community Church Hall by First Aid Africa senior trainer Ellie Monsell, supported by Zambia Country Project Manager Nalukui Siame and Trainer Mutinta Phiri.
The success of the phase 1 project was mainly due to well organized and simplified delivery teaching techniques (including the use of local language), the relevance of the content and adaptability to the learners’ environment & lifestyle. This intervention is aimed at building a pre-hospital care system in a community located 35KM from the nearest health facility.
Although the total number of trained first responders is considered small compared to the number of emergencies recorded in the community and road traffic accidents, the impact created by the training is highly appreciated by both community leaders and members.
It can be agreed at this point that developing a sustainable and efficient emergency healthcare system cannot be done in isolation from creating a community of well-trained first responders in hotspot locations such as Chibombo, Serenje, Mpika and Mazabuka; and First Aid Africa Zambia continues to support this cause through partnerships with organisations such as St Andrews First Aid, who recently visited the community in Chibombo.
In 2019, First Aid Africa Zambia will be providing additional training to support capacity building for community trainers, and further train over 50 men in first aid skills at the site.