If you are unfortunate enough to be trapped in a smoke filled building, your chances of survival here in W Mani, are now probably as good as anywhere. Not only have Gaia had donations of equipment for dealing with indoor fires, including breathing apparatus, they are now trained to use it. They can also give 1st Aid, and can transport you to hospital, if needed. Training is an on-going process which Gaia take very seriously, but there is nothing like a realistic setting, to practice their skills.
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Once the fire season had quietened down it was time for the Gaia volunteers to resume training. In addition to rescue, using breathing apparatus, and giving first aid, casualty handling and scene management also need practice. With this in mind Tony, Roland and Peter set about organising an exercise. Permission was obtained to use the Stoupa cultural centre, and the scenario was an electrical fire, smoke logged building and numerous casualties. On Wednesday November 13th, the scene was set , using stage smoke, and make up to create realistic casualties. This ensured that when the Gaia team arrived, not knowing what to expect, they would be tested to the full. Casualties consisted of the Gaia Youth Group, a dummy and Julia Thompson. The simulated injuries consisting of smoke inhalation, head injury, crush injury, broken bones and lacerations, and were very realistic, while Julia played the role of an anxious, heavily pregnant lady, with enthusiasm !
On arrival, two teams of Gaia volunteers quickly entered the building wearing breathing apparatus while others set up a casualty handling area where 1st aid and appropriate treatment was given. During the exercise Roland, Peter and Tony remained in the building to act as observers and to ensure safety for everyone. All the casualties were quickly found and extricated from the building and given the appropriate treatment . All survived, apart from the dummy!
Afterwards there was a debrief and a viewing of the photographs taken. Not only was the event a successful demonstration of a rescue operation, it gave confidence to the volunteers that they could handle a major incident of this kind. For the Youth Team it was not only a valuable lesson, it was also great fun!