After finishing up our water, waste and wind technology projects at schools and our base in the Pantanal, we've begun the second phase of the summer here, in which we will be teaching CPR, English, and music at local schools and our partner orphanage Nazaré.
During the last week of June we visited the schools at Chumbo and Cangas to teach First-aid and CPR. Although the classes were to follow a very structured format, at times it was difficult to complete a lesson as planned and still address all of the students’ (and teachers’) misconceptions about basic health issues. The general lack of (correct) knowledge about common illnesses and bodily mechanisms was both frustrating and illuminating. We spent a fair bit of time convincing some that hitting a person on the back was not an acceptable substitute for the Heimlich maneuver. In the end, though, being able to sort through and eliminate at least some of their misinformation was rewarding, especially with regard to life-saving skills like CPR.
On the first day, students learned how to safely and effectively analyze an emergency situation and identify life-threatening injuries. Students left the lesson with the ability to identify the presence of several vital signs such as pulse and breathing. They also learned how to evaluate a victim’s mental status. The second day focused on basic wound care management. The students now know how to stop many types of bleeding and splint various parts of the body. We actually heard a story of a student who, the day after taking our class, ran home to splint her brother’s broken arm! Our final day was spent teaching CPR. We showed them an instructional video (in Portuguese), approved for use by the American Heart Association. At times during the video we would interject in order to elaborate on or simplify certain concepts. The students were able to practice chest compression technique on our makeshift mannequins.