Somerset paramedic to return to Afghanistan to train hospital staff, police and soldiers
Somerset paramedic Nich Woolf is planning to return to war-torn Afghanistan in 2013 to continue a programme of essential training for hospital staff in emergency medicine and use of life-saving equipment.
He was last at the public hospital in Mazar i Sharif in Northern Afghanistan in the autumn of 2011 helping to prepare the staff to carry out safe operations in emergency situations.
These skills were much needed at the end of that year when the town was the scene of a suicide bombing in which four people died and 27 were injured.
Nich, from Burnham-on-Sea, said: “The objectives this time include setting up a resuscitation training programme that the hospital can then run and maintain, as well as helping them write a Major Incident Plan to refer to in emergencies.
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“We will also be introducing the World Health Organisation’s “Safe Surgery” pre-operation checklist.”
Joining Nich on the trip, will be oral and facial surgeon Cath Adams, who will teach resuscitation and surgical airway techniques, which will be of particular use when dealing with patients suffering from gunshot wounds.
Cath will also assist the Afghan hospital dentists by providing some additional, donated equipment and expertise in dealing with traumatic oral injuries.
Cath, who works in hospitals in Powys, Mid Wales, has previous experience of working in disaster-stricken countries, such as Thailand, after the 2004 Tsunami.
Cath said: “We will also be training members of the Afghan Police and Afghan National Army to improve the handling of casualties before they reach hospital, because there is no ambulance service in Mazar and the Police and Army are responsible for transporting casualties.”
As before, Nich will be taking medical equipment out with him when he leaves in April – much of it donated via Festival Medical Services (FMS), who run the Medical Services at Glastonbury and Reading pop festivals.
Nich, who works for the Welsh Ambulance Service, is a founder member of FMS, a registered charity in its own right which raises money for medical causes in Britain and around the world. Cath is a member of the ambulance crew for FMS.
In Afghanistan they will work with SGAA the charity founded by former ITN newscaster Sandy Gall, which provides medical assistance and rehabilitation for victims of war and terrorism.
Nich said: “There is no doubt that the work of the Sandy Gall Afghanistan Appeal is changing lives and that the training and equipment we provide is vitally needed and gratefully received.
“The visit last year was useful in that a number of hospital staff were successfully trained. However it identified the need for Afghans to be able to train themselves, as in the old saying: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for life.”
Nich also appealed for anyone who can translate English into the Afghan languages of Dari or Pushto to contact him on 0777 3333262, as the team need to translate checklists and triage cards before they leave for Afghanistan, and have so far failed to find anyone able to help them achieve this.