8 Jul 2013

NZ paramedics train and equip Samoan counterparts

5:52 pm on 8 July 2013

New Zealand paramedics who travelled to Samoa to equip and train their counterparts there are set to return within a year.

Two paramedics and a doctor from the New Zealand-based Vivere Trust travelled to Samoa to provide 200 kilograms of medical supplies and a five-day training course last month.

A paramedic, Byron Williams, told Mary Baines that ambulances in Samoa are operated by fire-fighters who have limited training in clinical support or pain relief.

BYRON WILLIAMS: We've done quite a bit of research into where the staff are at, what sort of jobs they go to, what level of training they've got and what equipment is in the ambulances. They're nothing like what you'd expect in New Zealand. We knew that in advance and it was just developing that so they've got a better skill set to be able to provide for their community. And at this stage, there's still nothing like what you'd get here or Australia, however they're slightly better prepared than what they were a month ago.

MARY BAINES: What was the training that you provided?

BW: We basically went through how to manage an unconscious patient and what different types of unconscious patients there are, which is something that is not unique to an ambulance service by any means, however it's one of the most vital things that any ambulance officer can do. A very common illness that they get over there is just dehydration and dehydration in children. So as part of that training we provide them with further knowledge in how to manage dehydration while they're transporting to the hospital. In some cases, they've got two or three hour transport times to the hospital, so that quite a period of time that if the child was to get worse they could get a lot worse very quickly.

MB: What kind of response did you get?

BW: The response we got from them was better than expected. They were ecstatic with the training that we provided. They're keen for it to happen again and they're really, really keen to work with us in building their skill set and building their staff training level and building the skills that they can provide and making services align over there, as well, which is something we'll work with them on doing, so you've not got multiple providers providing the same thing, but only one provider doing it very well.

MB: Have you had any updates since you returned to New Zealand?

BW: The guys have embraced it. We've had reports that the guys are practising at the station some of the skills that they learnt on themselves and on their colleagues every day, which is absolutely fantastic, 'cause there's some skills that you only keep with practise and that's just doing it. And they don't have the same sort of job turnover as what we do here in New Zealand and Australia. So doing this on some of their other guys, like taking a blood pressure and a blood sugar, is fantastic. And it's a good way of keeping their skills up, and they've been doing that, from what we've been told.

MB: Do you plan on going back any time soon?

BW: We will. We're currently already planning our next trip, which could be in about eight months to a year. As part of our next trip we're looking at ways that they could provide training to their community, as well, so not just us providing to them, but also them providing training to other people in the community, to help build that community resilience, which is what they need and what they really need to build up, so they're better able to cope in the event of a disaster or in the event of a medical emergency.