Lessons Learned from First Aid Class
By Sela Chham and Tyler Roy
From what I have experienced growing up in Cambodia, when accidents happen here, people often try and help victims by using traditional Cambodian techniques and medicine. Unfortunately, more often than not, these techniques will not help people to get better. In order to better learn how to treat injuries, proven modern techniques need to be utilized.
Because of this, on December 13th, PEPY provided a First Aid Training course conducted by the Red Cross to all of our staff so that we could learn more about healing ourselves and others. During our training we did not learn advanced medical techniques, but rather learned the skills necessary to save lives in emergencies. We learned how to immobilize fractures, treat burns, stop bleeding, and perform many more medical techniques.
These classes are essential because Cambodian ways to deal with health emergencies are often different, even from one village to another. These methods have various degrees of effectiveness, ranging from being very effective (placing banana leaves on burns) to being very harmful (dragging a motorcycle accident victim by the feet).
In our first aid classes, our staff members were asked questions by the trainer. For example, one question was “How would you stop bleeding?” One person answered “use brake fluid,” another suggested “pouring gasoline into it.” Other answers ranged from using smashed spiders and their webs to applying charcoal and alcohol.
While those may seem harmless enough, and some may even work, other treatments in Cambodia can prove to be extremely harmful. For example, if someone is electrocuted and their heart stops, instead of performing CPR or other lifesaving techniques, some Cambodians bury the person up to their neck in mud or sand and cover them with a white cloth. This is done in hopes of releasing the excess electricity that has built up in the person’s body into the ground. Some people will also shove a white cloth into the person’s mouth and ears in order to keep the person’s spirit from escaping the body. Since people occasionally recover naturally during this process, any recovery is credited to the success of the treatment, and the ineffective method of treatment will be used again.
Through our training, we were able to learn modern first aid techniques to facilitate safety and health so that we will be able to provide suitable first-aid treatment to employees or other people in the office, people in the communities in which we work, along with participants who come on a trip with PEPY. Because of the workshop, our staff now has the necessary skills to help preserve life, prevent further harm, and promote recovery.