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Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Making a difference in communities

TEAMWORK: The group of students with Prof Penelope Engel-Hills, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Health and Wellness Sciences and Lloyd Christopher, Head of the EMS Department. TEAMWORK: The group of students with Prof Penelope Engel-Hills, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Health and Wellness Sciences and Lloyd Christopher, Head of the EMS Department.

The Department of Emergency Medical Sciences is helping a group of Ocean View residents to make a difference in their community by training them as Emergency First Aid Responders (EFAR).

Two second-year BHSc: Emergency Medical Sciences students, Domenise Lamienie and Gwen Wilson, were the coordinators and recently conducted training workshops with a willing team of first and second-years for 90 Ocean View residents. They also arranged first aid kits for the participants.

“After the theoretical and practical content was covered, the participants wrote a test where their understanding of the content delivered was assessed. We are glad that all our participants met the outcomes excellently,” said Lamienie.

The project stemmed from a community-based research project titled Internationalisation for knowledge partnership and social transformation, which is funded by NRF/STINT.

The principal investigators are Prof Penelope Engel-Hills, acting Dean of the Faculty of Health and Wellness Sciences, and Prof Hilde Ibsen from the University of Karlstad in Sweden.

“The collaboration focus is broadly on the challenges in this community which includes high levels of violence and simultaneously the development of social awareness amongst our students by influencing the relevance of our curriculum,” said Engel-Hills.

She said data gathered from focus groups indicated the need for first aid training to enable community members to respond appropriately while awaiting the arrival of an ambulance.

“They expressed this need forcefully with the statement; ‘we stand and watch people die’.”

The EMS Department’s Dr Navindhra Naidoo, who is a key member of the research team, was able to initiate a Service Learning project with the second-year students.

“The students planned the training so well from the excellent delivery of the material, to care in the management of the assessment, lunch and even a playgroup to occupy children so their parents could do the course,” said Engel-Hills.

“From a researcher side I am thrilled that the research is doing what we intended – raising challenges in this community, seeking community responses to challenges, offering appropriate interventions, and at the same time providing students with opportunities to work constructively with the community and gain real understanding of life as is it lived by the residents.”

Wilson said her personal highlight was when a participant thanked her and Lamienie and said they had never received a certificate before.

“From that moment I knew we were doing more than just first aid training.”

Written by Ilse Fredericks


Provides coverage for the Health and Wellness Sciences and Informatics and Design Faculties.