By Elena Nyanenkova, IFRC
What would you do if you see someone choking or fainting? The answer is simple: call for help and give first aid. But what would you do if you are a migrant working in a foreign country, with limited knowledge of the local language, little information about emergency services available and no community networks?
“My current employer often asks what would I do in a case of medical emergency,” says Zarni, a 33-year-old nanny from Myanmar with a decade of experience working in Thailand. She looks after a new born and a 5-year old while their parents are at work.
After a first aid training by the Thai Red Cross Society, Zarni and other Burmese migrants now have the skills and confidence to handle minor medical emergencies which can happen at home, at the workplace or on the street.
“Before the training I only knew how to apply a band-aid, but thanks to the Red Cross I have learned skills that can help the family I work for, my friends and myself,” Zarni continues.
Zarni is one of the estimated 120,000 Burmese domestic migrant workers who are servicing households in Thailand. On top of their housekeeping duties, domestic guardians also care for the children and elderly. During medical emergencies, they act as first responders before professional help arrives.
“Teaching Burmese migrants first aid skills brings many benefits not only for them and their employers in Thailand but also for their communities in Myanmar,” says Poonsap Tulaphan, director of the Homenet, a Bangkok-based network of Thai and Burmese domestic workers.
“Most of the Burmese migrants come from isolated rural communities that have limited access to emergency health services. The skills they learn in Thailand will stay with them when they go back home.”
In September 2016, the Red Cross started providing First Aid education for Burmese and Thai domestic workers in Thailand.
“Training Burmese migrants is a new experience for us. We recognize that migrants have limited training opportunities and are happy to do something useful for them”, says Nittaya Romrean, Head of the first aid training section at the Thai Red Cross Society’s First Aid and Health Care Training Centre. “In the beginning, we were a little bit worried about the language barrier, but I am glad to see that the group engages well and uses the handouts we have prepared in the Burmese language”.
To meet the specific needs of this target group, the Red Cross developed a tailored migrant-friendly one-day crash course. It begins with the techniques to perform a primary survey of the scene and the victim and the information about emergency numbers in Thailand.
Ten learning modules are delivered through role plays, videos and exercises to explore various first aid emergencies and put acquired skills into practice. Participants learn techniques for handling minor medical emergencies, such as treatment of a foreign objects in the eye and ear, choking, fainting, dog and snake bites, management of bleeding, wounds and fractures. In addition, they learn how to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for children and adults.
“The Red Cross has already trained about 70 Burmese and 30 Thai domestic workers. We really hope these skills will help domestic workers to provide initial and timely assistance to a victim before emergency help arrives,” says Nittaya Romrean
To learn more about the Thai Red Cross Society please visit http://english.redcross.or.th/home