My name is Daniella and I am SORT’s treasurer. I spent this summer in Cape Town, South Africa working alongside an organization called EFAR (Emergency First Aid Responders). EFAR works with the Western Cape Provincial Emergency Medical System (EMS). EFAR is both a training program, training township community members in emergency first aid skills, and a dispatch program, dispatching such community members to an emergency scene. Townships around Cape Town are home for up to one million people, and many of these communities experience abundant crime and trauma which burdens the already limited resources of the EMS. For instance, it’s not too uncommon for people to have to wait up to 24 hours for an ambulance!
EFAR has become vital to many of these communities because trained community members (referred to as EFARs) who are live within these townships are able to be called to a scene and stabilize patients until an ambulance can arrive. What was really cool about the EFAR training program was that, in contrast to other first aid training programs, the EFAR curriculum emphasizes making use of the resources you have at hand! (Don’t have a proper splint? You can use cardboard, a broom, a stick, etc.)
While the original plan for my summer was to conduct in-depth interviews with EFARs in two of Cape Town’s more violent townships (Manenberg and Lavender Hill), increased internal complications and safety concerns of commuting into these townships deemed it best that I work on a different project. So instead I worked on a program evaluation of a series of new workshops EFAR was holding to teach after-school physical education coaches on how to teach EFAR skills to children! This was the first time EFAR was reaching out to schools, so it was exciting to participate in a brand new part of EFAR! I created and administered surveys and helped to lead focus groups to better understand what the coaches thought of the workshops and how to most successfully implement a school kids-appropriate EFAR curriculum. I also got to create a handbook that coaches could use with ‘cheat sheets’ of how to perform some of the learned first aid skills, such as CPR, abdominal thrusts, and splinting.
Living in Cape Town was an incredible experience! (Luckily not as many vuvuzelas as I had anticipated). I got to meet people from all over the world, try some bunny chow (South African dish of curry served in half a loaf of bread), and admire the beautiful landscape! Cape Town has some impressive geology, so even got to try my hand at rock climbing. Among my favorite after-work moments included hiking Table Mountain, bungee jumping off of the world’s highest bungee bridge, and going on a safari to Kruger National Park.
I’m going to miss South Africa, but glad to be back in the ATL :)