LIFESAVERS: Derbyshire schoolchildren teach first aid to kids in Africa

EMAS) paramedic Claire Griffin on the expedition to Namibia.
EMAS) paramedic Claire Griffin on the expedition to Namibia.

A dedicated paramedic and a group of Derbyshire schoolchildren have returned from a trip to south-west Africa where they’ve been teaching lifesaving first aid skills.

The 30 pupils were taking part in the British Exploring Society (BES) initiative, along with East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) paramedic Claire Griffin, aged 34.

The youngsters first learnt about cardio pulmonary resuscitation before passing on their skills to the children from Abraham Goriseb School in Erongo Province, northern Namibia.

Speaking about the voluntary trip of a lifetime, Claire said: “BES made this trip an amazing opportunity for young people in our own country to grow and learn in an environment very different to what they’re used to. The community life saving project gave us all a shared focus that allowed new learning to take place, confidence and career choices also to develop at the same time as changing lives.

“The Namibian community is bursting with pride now they’ve had our training and the confidence within our young explorers was palpable. I am so very grateful to be part of a fantastic BES and school leader team.”

She added: “As a pastoral care worker within EMAS and also an associate clinical tutor I was able to develop my own skills in these areas and enjoyed supporting the children in this venture. I look forward to being involved in continuation training and follow up support to see this project change the way emergencies are responded to in these remote areas.”

The trip was funded by sponsors and charity events organised by the six schools in north Derbyshire that the children attend; The Frederick Gent school in South Normanton, Heritage High school in Clowne, Bolsover school, Stubbin Wood school in Shirebrook, Shirebrook Academy and Tibshelf Community school.

Dr Steve Lloyd, chair of NHS Hardwick Clinical Commissioning Group, began the Namibia bound expedition in 2014 and led the trip this year.

“The expedition was as much about delivering basic life support training to Derbyshire and Namibian students as developing confidence and raising aspirations,” he explained.

“Many of the young people on the expedition have had to deal with difficult circumstances in their lives and the expedition gave them the opportunity to experience a place and life very different to their own.

“It was wonderful to see the expedition grow in confidence as they passed on the lifesaving skills they had been taught and contributed to the overall health and wellbeing of Erongo Province. The expedition also enjoyed treks into the superb wilderness and learnt valuable desert survival skills.”

Dr Lloyd added: “All those involved in leading the expedition are delighted with how it has gone this year and now it is important to continue to build on this success and develop plans over the next 12 months for the next Namibia bound expedition to ensure this collaborative programme continues in the future.”

Dr Lloyd is keen to talk to anyone who is interested in how they might contribute to supporting the efforts of the Eagle Christian Centre Ambulance to expand their community training programmes and also individuals who are passionate about supporting the development and aspirations of young people. He can be reached at: Steven.Lloyd@hardwickccg.nhs.uk

British Exploring Society (BES) Namibia Bound expedition is a venture organised between the schools, Bolsover Partnership, SNaP, Derbyshire County Council and NHS Hardwick Clinical Commissioning Group, with the students raising a significant element of the funding themselves through charitable deeds.

Following the expedition Claire is now fundraising to buy a defibrillator and other medical equipment for the Namibian school. She has set a target of £1,800. See: www.youcaring.com/eagle-christian-ambulance-charity-namibia-627461