Serbian Red Cross top first aid team in Europe

Published: 12 July 2007 0:00 CET

Aoife MacEoin, Irish Red Cross. Photos: Brian Arthur and Emma Jervis/Press22. Courtesy of Irish Red Cross

The first aid team from Serbian Red Cross were officially recognized as the best European providers of first aid, after winning the top prize in the First Aid Convention in Europe, (FACE) which took place in Ireland on July 9-10 at the University of Limerick.

Their precision in diagnosis, coupled with swift and effective responses, ensured that the Serbian Red Cross team scored highest at the event hosted by the Irish Red Cross. This is the second year in a row that Serbia has triumphed at FACE.

Alexander Pantelic, the Serbian team leader, was speechless as he held the cup aloft on stage for several minutes while his team mates gathered around him, singing and dancing in joy at the victory.

However, the Red Cross team from Bulgaria, which came a close second, was also praised for the quality of care and treatment they gave casualties. The Red Cross team from Austria placed third in the competition and was also commended for its remarkable performance.

Congratulating the teams, Irish Red Cross vice-chairman Tony Lawlor said the event showcased the very best skills in Europe and served to highlight the importance off first aid.

“Three million people in Europe are trained in first aid by the Red Cross every year, and this convention shows the level of expertise available right across Europe,” he noted. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the competitors who have travelled to Ireland to take part in this event. Having witnessed at first-hand their skill and know-how, I am confident that our Red Cross volunteers across Europe will continue to be at the forefront of helping people in pain and distress.”

The German Red Cross team won first prize in a special category for their skills at triage at a special decontamination unit exercise sponsored by the State health service of Ireland. The exercise was meant to simulate a bio-chemical contamination.

The Polish team won first prize in a special category for Red Cross Youth.

A total of 28 teams from 25 countries took part in the competitions. This included a team fielded by the Irish Red Cross for participation purposes only, as host countries are excluded from the competition. There were six competitors on each team. (Italy fielded two teams as they could not compete last year when they were the hosts.)

The competition comprised 28 stations in total, set up on a seven-kilometre circuit - half of which were ‘Fun’ or ‘Rest’ stations and half were first aid challenges. The 14 “competitive” stations were set up according to the following scenarios: a car crash, a barbecue that exploded and caused burns, a series of accidents at an athletics track, a drunk driver running over a pedestrian, a bank robbery, a shooting, an accident at a rugby match, and a near-fatal drowning, among others. Each team had to intervene in every scenario, and had a limited amount of time to demonstrate its skills and expertise.

Tony Lawlor also thanked Irish Red Cross volunteers and staff who helped to make the event such a success as well as lead sponsors Ambu and Cardiac Science, for their financial support.

The Irish Red Cross was widely praised for hosting a particularly enjoyable and challenging event that presented serious and realistic tests to competitors, while at the same time ensuring a festive and fun atmosphere. At the opening ceremony the teams and their supporters paraded behind a samba band to the University Concert Hall, where they watched an Irish Dancing show.

The Irish Red Cross organised trips to Limerick City and Bunratty Castle in Co. Clare. There was also a ‘poc fada’ or hurling competition, a traditional Irish game where players compete to hit a ‘sliotar’ (ball) with a ‘hurley’. The visitors were also given lessons in the Irish language, and many of them spent the weekend greeting their hosts in Irish.

The first FACE competition took place in Biedenkopf in Germany in 1987. The Irish Red Cross has won the event four times in the history of this annual competition. This was the first year that the Irish Red Cross hosted FACE.

Next year’s First Aid Convention in Europe will take place in the European Capital of Culture for 2008, Liverpool, in June 2008.