By Jaimee Arroyo
Family Nurse Practitioner, Hopewell Family Care
When I teach seminars regarding emergency response, I usually begin by addressing the ‘crowd phenomenon.’ Crowd phenomenon is when everyone thinks someone else has called an ambulance. Several precious wasted minutes go by before anyone realizes that no one, in fact, called. Before a responder begins CPR, I teach them to point to and call someone out of the crowd by name saying, “Jack, you go call 911.” This ensures that someone has called an ambulance.
But I can't start out this way when I teach in El Salvador. Due to the conditions of the roads, the lack of cellular signal, and the distance to rural areas like where we minister, ambulances are not something to be counted on.
Our cooperatives and interns at our campus are well aware of this fact. Because of that lack, we have been training them with health care skills to be the first responders. Word has spread, and many people now come to them for help. Our interns have also been volunteering at a local clinic twice a week.
This December they were empowered with even more skills to be able to respond when no one else is available. They were eager to learn how to do adult and infant choking maneuvers, adult and infant CPR, wound care for moderate and severe wounds, and Epi-pen administration.
This same group of people have previously been denied access to formal education. Despite many challenges against them, they have chosen to believe that God can use them to serve their community. Society has a list of reasons that disqualify them from being a resource for anyone, but they are proving that list is short-sighted. They have faith that they can respond to medical emergencies when no one else will, and we’re getting to empower them to do it.
During our workshops, they were eager, engaged, asked questions, and posed scenarios. They had several ‘aha moments’ and huge smiles demonstrated their new found confidence. We looked for hazards on the campus that could cause choking or drowning for children and they all acknowledged their responsibility to be on a look out for these things.
As I watched them practice wound care techniques, CPR compressions, and Epi-pen administration, I had to keep the tears from flowing. Just imagine if we wouldn’t have invested into this group who now was performing so confidently? Though their world saw very little potential in them, God saw a lot, and we were happy to work with him to empower this group.
What looks like foolishness to this world is the wisdom of God. He is so good at taking those of low standing and shaping them into a force that brings justice, righteousness, and equality to their communities.
The cooperatives and interns will be sending us videos of them honing their skills. We'll be testing them quarterly as we expect them to remember this information and be ready to be a life saving resource. I wish my friends had ambulances and good roads, but in an emergency situation where that isn’t available, I’m comforted that our friends are developing into life saving resources.