IFRC


Providing lifesaving support at world renowned palace

Published: 15 December 2015 3:55 CET

By Mahieash Johnney, IFRC @mahieash 

Hong Kong resident, Dennis Chang, always wanted to visit Sigiriya, one of the most Sri Lanka’s most famous historical monuments. Referred by the locals as the eighth wonder of the world, this ancient palace and fortress complex is situated on top of a massive column of rock nearly 660 feet high, attracting thousands of tourists each year. 

When Dennis and his friends organised a backpacking trip in Sri Lanka, he finally got his chance to visit Sigiriya. Unfortunately his visit was cut short by a nasty accident. As they were climbing up the steep rock, Dennis slipped and fell. Bruised and bleeding, the nearest hospital was 16 kilometres away in the town of Dambulla. However, a first aid post operated by the Red Cross in the vicinity of Sigiriya spared him from the long journey.

Part of the Sigiriya Lions Rock first aid project, the post was established in May 2014 as a joint programme between Central Cultural Fund Sri Lanka and the Matale branch of the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society.

“In the past, there were many incidents where visitors faced medical emergencies and had to travel far to receive the treatment they needed,” said Ruwan Rathnayake, the Red Cross Branch Executive Officer in Matale. “It was evident that we needed to provide first aid support and set up a post near the tourist site.”

Six first aid trained volunteers, three camp leaders and a monitoring office are now placed at the post where they provide treatment which ranges from minor injuries such as cuts and wounds to more serious situations where visitors might loss consciousness. An ambulance is on standby to transport severely injured patients to the nearest hospital.

“In 2015 alone we have treated over 8,000 people with first aid support,” said Tissa Abeywickrama, the Director General of the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society. “This is a good partnership, as the Central Cultural Fund and Red Cross Matale branch are looking at other needs in the surrounding areas to see where we can provide additional support.”

For tourists like Dennis, the first aid post provided more than emergency treatment and relief. “It’s nice to see a familiar organization like the Red Cross in an unknown country, far away from home, and to know that you are in safe hands,”  he said. 




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