Community equipped with first aid skills

Lynn Phillips, secretary of the CPF shows how to assist someone when they are stabbed, next to her is Brigadier Cass Goolam, Mitchells Plain police station commander.

To enable them to help residents in an emergency, 12 Mitchell’s Plain Community Police Forum members attended the Emergency First Aid Responder course recently.

The nine-hour workshop, which was held at Duneside Primary in Westridge on Saturday May 6, was conducted in collaboration with the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University. The facilitators were from the universities and the Emergency Medical Services.

CPF secretary Lynn Phillips said it was important for members of the safety structure to be empowered and equipped with the necessary skills.

She said most of the time the volunteers were the first people on the scene when an incident occurred, because they were in the community.

The CPF has volunteers who are part of the sub-forum, block- and street committees.

“They are usually the first people on a scene, and their role is to secure the crime scene and do crowd control until the emergency services arrive.

“The workshop covered a range of topics including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), crime scene management, managing emergencies such as violent injuries and splinting. They were also taught how to deal with people who are unconscious and when someone has a heart attack,” she said.

Ms Phillips said last year 200 members attended training which was focused on helping them to understand a crime scene and how to protect a scene from DNA contamination. “This was the next level of training, and for the CPF this is extremely vital.”

Faldielah Evans, from Tafelsig West Block Watch, said the training was informative and she walked away with new skills that are important in her area. “In our area there are incidents such as shootings and fires. These skills I can apply when I am on a scene, and hopefully save a life. “Two things I found interesting was how to do CPR on a baby (which is different to adults) and someone who is choking. We thank the CPF for the opportunity,” she said.

Shereen Hendricks, from the Tafelsig East Sub-forum, said she felt more confident approaching a crime scene after the training. Among the challenges the CPF structures encountered at crime scenes, were residents who did things without knowing. “We often find people interfering with the victims or destroying evidence without even knowing. There are also times when they create a hype around the scene which makes our job difficult. For example, if there is an accident, they will try and get the person out of the car, not knowing how the body is positioned,” she said, adding that the only time an exception is made, regarding moving a victim, is if the vehicle is on fire – or at risk of being set alight.

Ms Phillips, said the volunteers attended scenes of various kinds of incidents, including accidents, stabbings, medical and missing children.

Mitchell’s Plain police station commander Brigadier Cass Goolam said he was pleased that members had been trained in first aid. “I am happy that it is the right people that received the training, because they are dedicated, passionate and reliable.

“As said before they are the first on the scene, so when the police arrive, it is much calmer,” he said.

Brigadier Goolam urged residents to work with the structures and police and not against them. “The real threat is the negative attitude of the community. There are times when residents attack the police and the members of the CPF. These safety structures are there to assist the community, so allow them to do their job,” he said.