Basic First Aid with the Philippine Red Cross

Have you ever taken a Red Cross class? Perhaps CPR or Basic First Aid or Lifeguarding.

The Red Cross takes its roots back to Geneva, Switzerland in 1863. Today there are Red Cross Societies in nearly every country worldwide (190 total) including the Philippine Red Cross!

For the Mountain Guides on Sibuyan Island in Romblon, Philippines, a visit from the Philippine Red Cross has been on their wish list for the past 10 years.

Climbing Mt. Guiting Guiting, Sibuyan Island, Romblon
Climbing Mt. Guiting Guiting, Sibuyan Island, Romblon

Last week, with support from the Romblon Provincial Government together with a US Peace Corps grant 36 mountain guides, porters and staff members joined a 4-day training session on Basic First Aid led by two Philippine Red Cross certified Instructors.

Philippine Red Cross instructors demonstrate proper technique for back boarding a patient.
Philippine Red Cross instructors demonstrate the proper technique for back boarding a patient.

If your fellow climber gets bit by a snake should you suck out the poison?!
No – “avoid any interference with the bite wound such as incising, rubbing, vigorous cleaning, massaging or applying herbs.” Instead, work to calm your patient and have them sit or lie down in a safe and comfortable position. This will slow the spread of any potential toxin throughout the person’s bloodstream. Seek medical care if the snake is thought to be venomous and determine the best mode of evacuation for your patient.

36 mountain guides practice CPR and rescue breathing on a partner
36 mountain guides practice CPR and rescue breathing on a partner

Our 36 mountain guides learned to respond to cardiac and airway emergencies. They each received a large white bandage easily foldable into a cravat for managing open wounds as well as bones, joints and muscle injuries. The guides borrowed Magdiwang’s municipal spine board for practice transporting patients with spinal injuries and also discussed how to improvise a hammock carry with large tree branches and a tent tarp if needed.

For their final test the participants were dispersed to response to a simulated mass emergency crisis: 6 victims scattered throughout the Natural Park with various injuries ranging from a broken ankle to a head wound and even not breathing with no pulse.

The tourist victims preparing to assume unconsciousness
The tourist victims preparing to assume unconsciousness

The 6 teams of responders were all successful in finding their patient, assessing scene safety, giving appropriate treatment, and evacuating their patient to office headquarters.

A total of 31 individuals passed the Red Cross final exam and received their certification. My biggest challenge during this course was holding onto participants. Despite a fully funded training most mountain guides have little money during this off season and several dropped out of the course so they could return home and work to feed their families. Others did their best to make do. The guides from San Fernando lacked funds for transportation and elected to walk 37km just to attend this event. Many participants would disappear into the forest during session breaks to gather honey which could be sold in town for money.

If you are planning to climb Mt. Guiting Guiting in 2017 or later, know that your mountain guide is looking out for you and has Basic First Aid knowledge to respond should an emergency arrive. And maybe give him an extra tip for making sure your safety is a priority.

We passed!!!
We passed!!! The newly certified First Aiders

If you are applying to be a Peace Corps Volunteer with an Aquaculture work assignment, you might still end up facilitating a medical training for Mountain Guides if you find a need. I decided to mix work with pleasure when I climbed Mt. Guiting Guiting mountain last year and am happy that one year later I was able to fulfill my promise and catalyze this training. Read about my 2015 Mt. Guiting Guiting climb.

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2 thoughts on “Basic First Aid with the Philippine Red Cross”

  1. SJ!! What an awesome means of empowering those guides. That is such a valuable skill to ensure they received.
    You have “made your mark” in so many meaningful ways during your time there. I am sure you can think of a million more things you wish you could provide for your communities in Romblon, but know that you have touched so many more lives than you could ever imagine. Thank you for giving of your time and energy to make the Philippines (and the world!!) a better place – both in the sea and on the land. I am so proud of your service and all you have accomplished.
    Love you so much!!!

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