It’s not often we are presented a situation where our presence could mean the difference between life and death for someone. However, few people are educated on what steps to take when put into these emergency situations. According to an article published by the PLoS Journal of Medicine in 2011, nearly 41 percent of deaths in Africa could be prevented with emergency care. For those in the more rural parts of countries, bystander emergency care could mean the difference between life and death.
In an effort to educate people on ways they can become community lifesavers during emergency situations, Oumaima Fares, an IRIS alumna from Tunisia, began holding CPR and first aid training sessions in her home community.
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, more commonly known as CPR, can be taught to nearly anyone over the age of nine years old. In Tunisia, approximately 40 percent of the population is under the age of 24. With a majority of these youth located in rural areas, Oumaima saw an opportunity to teach them CPR and other safety maneuvers, making students better bystanders in an emergency.
As part of Echmoun, a non-profit organization in Tunisia that works towards establishing the teaching of healing and help in the Tunisian education system, Oumaima organized this project alongside others working with Echmoun. At the time of this project, 20 young Tunisians were recognized as helping educate youth on bystander awareness and emergency care.
Oumaima completed five different sessions of CPR training over the last two months. The first session worked with 75 high school students, and the second session – which was unplanned, was in a middle school classroom of 25 students after a teacher invited Oumaima to teach her class. Along with the other three sessions, Oumaima’s team trained nearly 225 people in the first round of this project.
Working with others from Echmoun, Oumaima’s efforts also raise awareness among youth on their importance in emergency situations. Some of the lessons taught included learning how to recognize danger, assess the state on consciousness of a victim, as well as provide appropriate first aid. Along with CPR training, students also learned how to use the Heimlich maneuver to help people when choking.
The 13 CPR mannequins used by Oumaima and her team for the sessions were purchased and provided by IRIS after receiving a generous donation from an anonymous donor. Overall, Oumaima says the project was a success and there are more sessions to be scheduled throughout the summer.
“We had a lot of fun teaching the students and we got a lot of offers from different schools and teachers inviting us to come and teach their students next,” Oumaima said.
At the end of each training program, first aid guides were distributed to the colleges and schools, and students were given evaluation sheets to provide Oumaima and her team with feedback for future sessions. Going forward, Oumaima says the goal is to give every Tunisian the opportunity to be a rescuer.
“In this commitment, we are inspired by the English motto that learning first aid is a right, not a luxury,” Oumaima said.