GGYA volunteers learn life-saving skills during month of love

On Friday, February 15, Governor General’s Youth Award volunteers from 14 units across New Providence participated in the American Heart Association Lifesavers Course with a CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) component held at the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture. In this photo volunteers learn how to “give breathe” through mouth-to-mouth technique. Photo courtesy of Precision Media

During a two-day training session held over the weekend, nearly 30 volunteers in the Governor General’s Youth Award (GGYA) gained knowledge and skills that may help save a life. A biennial training exercise, the course completion card for the American Heart Association Lifesavers Course with a CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) component is valid for two years. A chief goal of the course is to teach volunteers – responsible for hundreds of teen and young adults – how to act in an emergency. Volunteers learned the basics of first aid, the most common life-threatening emergencies, how to recognize them and how to help. GGYA Volunteers also learned how to recognize when someone needs CPR, how to administer it and use an AED – Automated External Defibrillator, a safe and easy to use a device that delivers a therapeutic electric shock to the heart as a treatment for sudden cardiac arrest. For a decade, GGYA has provided the course to hundreds of volunteers. “Safety is one of our major components that we like to stay on top of,” said Denise Mortimer, GGYA’s national director. “One time ago we only had to worry about asthma, but now there are many other ills afflicting our young people. Some of it has to do with healthy lifestyles and so we offer this course to all our volunteers once every two years in New Providence.” The training exercise ran Friday, February 15, to Saturday, February 16, in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture’s conference room, drawing volunteers from one youth organization and 14 public and private schools.

GGYA volunteers learn how to perform high quality CPR chest compressions placing the heel of one hand on the center of the chest, over the lower half of the breastbone, while placing the other hand on top of the first hand.
Photo courtesy of Precision Media

 In April, the course will be offered to unit leaders and volunteers from Grand Bahama and the Family Islands. “We don’t know when an emergency can happen, at work, home or just out shopping,” said certified American Heart Association (AHA) lead trainer, Terrance Arnett. A paramedic with the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF), Mr. Arnett has taught first aid and CPR for the past 18 years. The class has been known to save lives. According to Mr. Arnett, a Grand Bahama man who sat the course two years ago saved his daughter’s life after she fell in a pool and nearly drowned. “It’s good to know CPR, so you can recognize the signs of a stroke or heart attack and know how to act and what to do. I think everyone, even lay persons, should do some CPR or first aid class,” he said. The course covered first aid basics, medical emergencies, injury emergencies, environmental emergencies, illness and injury prevention, among other areas. At the end of the training GGYA Volunteers knew how to control bleeding, how to bandage, use an epinephrine pen and know the first aid actions for life threating conditions such as heart attack, difficulty breathing, choking and environmental shocks, such as hypothermia. It is knowledge Monique Cooper, a teacher has put to good use over the 10 years she has served as a unit leader at Government High School (GHS). “I use the training for the track team, when I accompany them on their travel, for sprains and non-life threating injuries,” she explained. She has also had to draw on those skills in a more serious emergency. “I had to use the skills in a stabbing incident when a young person was stabbed in the arm.

We had to make a tourniquet and stabilize the person. We had to use the skills to save a life,” said Ms. Cooper, who provided first aid to the victim – the immediate care one gives with an injury before emergency medical technicians with more advanced training arrives and take over. With many Bahamians not knowing or unsure of how to provide basic first aid to another adult Johnathan Brown, a teacher and GGYA assistant at the Leadership Academy wants to buck the trend.  “I hope to learn everything that could help someone to survive and stay alive,” he said. “It’s interesting to me to learn how this works and know what to do in certain life and death situations.” One of the country’s leading programme for young people, GGYA encourages youths to develop skills, give service to others and promote physical recreation and adventurous journeys (hiking expeditions). It is comprised of three levels: Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards.

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