Behind the scenes with first aid volunteers in Zimbabwe

Publié: 12 septembre 2013 9:55 CET

By Takemore Mazuruse, Zimbabwe Red Cross Society, and Hanna Butler, IFRC

While the recent presidential elections in Zimbabwe were making headlines around the world, behind the scenes local Zimbabwe Red Cross Society volunteers were providing free first aid treatment to many thousands of voters.  

The society trained 1,000 volunteers in first aid, and they worked tirelessly in the lead up to the elections at political rallies and on voting day, eventually treating over 10,000 people.

Providing free and impartial first aid to anyone that needs it is part of the Red Cross mandate, says Desmond Mudombi, the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society’s disaster management coordinator. “With a network of 40,000 volunteers across the country, we provide first aid coverage for all kinds of major public events, and the elections were no exception.”

There is always a need for ready and able first aiders. “Elections pose a challenge, as people converge in large numbers, spending hours and even days on their feet. We never know what might happen.” The majority of problems involved headaches, fainting and fatigue – the result of spending all day in a hot crowded environment.

The need for volunteers trained in first aid cannot be overemphasised, says Mudombi. “It is important to have qualified and skilled volunteers who are prepared for any situation, as they have medical skills and knowledge that the general public doesn’t.”

Last Tauya, who has been a volunteer for nearly 18 years, says he joined the Red Cross as a teenager because he wanted to help others. “I always feel great helping people free of charge. I think that this kind of work adds to what it means to be human,” he says.

Tauya has been trained in first aid, disaster preparation and disaster management. He has volunteered in many disasters and cholera outbreaks, and regularly assists with community activities such as training students in first aid. He says having first aid volunteers within their own community is an advantage, as they have an understanding of the community’s situation and needs.

With the elections over, Tauya and the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society are still looking at ways to improve. “We always need more volunteers, and we are looking to advance our skills and upgrade the medical equipment we use so we can give our communities the best medical assistance possible,” he says.


Everyone everywhere

The Red Cross Red Crescent worldwide is asking for legislative provisions to make first aid training compulsory for every individual seeking to obtain a driving licence. Based on our experience as the world’s leading first aid provider and educator, we also recognize that first aid training is essential for all people at all stages of their life – at home, in school, at the workplace. First aid is for everyone, everywhere.