Last Friday morning was the second training with our new group of promotoras (community health workers). Due to differences in transportation availability, altitude, and occupations of the inhabitants, each community faces unique health challenges. However, they also have many commonalities and it has been a joy to witness our promotoras sharing their experiences and knowledge with each other as they work towards improving health.
Friday’s training was the first of a two part series on basic first aid. We covered everything from cuts and animal bites to burns, fractures and infections. SVH/ Ayni Wasi nurse Leticia, Community Coordinator Elly, and myself (Sarah) demonstrated critical steps for addressing several first aid emergencies. The promotoras practiced their new first aid skills on volunteers suffering from various mishaps such as dog bites, kitchen knife wounds, and leg fractures. The promotoras received botiquines (first aid bags) so that they will have their own set of supplies to utilize during first aid emergencies.
Many of the communities where our promotoras live and work are hours away from the nearest clinic. Therefore, we incorporated some wilderness medicine skills, which emphasize ingenuity in using whatever is available to treat and transport patients. For example, the traditional clothing piece known as amanta can be folded into a sling or spread out to carry a patient who is unable to walk.
As always, our promatoras show eagerness to learn about natural treatments. For non-emergency situations, we demonstrated how the promotoras can use local herbs and plants to promote healing. For animal bites that don’t penetrate the skin, cabbage leaves can be ground into a paste and applied to wound after sterilization, and “hojas de llantén y sangre de grado,” a kind of leaf, can speed up the healing process for cuts.
After our exciting morning of emergency dramas and first aid, everyone enjoyed a delicious lunch ofcrema de zapallo (pumkin soup). Community coordinators sat down with their promotoras to check in about their first two weeks on the job and to plan community outreach efforts.