Training defence forces in Africa in the basics of emergency medical response vastly improves injured soldiers’ chances of surviving and recovering more swiftly, says emergency response training company ATA International business development manager Nicole de Montille.
“We are training Namibian Defence Force (NDF) soldiers in emergency medical response for use in a military setting. A quick and effective response to an injury in the field means that injured soldiers will spend less time in the intensive-care ward, the risk of infection will be reduced and their chances of making a full recovery will greatly improve,” explains De Montille, who is a qualified and experienced paramedic.
ATA International provides basic and introductory training on base and then brings the soldiers to South Africa where they are exposed to a functioning, and demanding, emergency response system in action.
“We place the soldiers with a private medical response company to expose them to professional response methods and standards for medical and trauma emergencies, ensuring that they understand and can apply critical treatment when they encounter situations outside of a hospital setting,” says De Montille.
Further, the knowledge and skills acquired are also filtering through to the country’s civil society, specifically in Windhoek, where the company is in talks with civil organisations to establish an ambulance training centre of excellence, she states.
Future training includes intermediate training for the NDF later in the year and possible foundation-phase rescue training for troops, she says.
“This job (emergency medical response) is not for everyone, but we benefit from the screening processes conducted by the NDF. The discipline of the trainee soldiers makes for easier training and ATA International respects the chain of command in these structures, resulting in good cooperation with the entire command structure,” she notes.
ATA International has also done training in Zambia and is in talks to train other African Union troops in their home countries.
The University of Johannesburg, to ensure adherence to best practice and indus- try standards, independently moderates the entire training process and appoints an independent moderator for the examination phase, says De Montille.
“The beauty of the training is that soldiers can be knowledgeable mentors for future para- medics and can form the nucleus or seed to expand emergency services in civil society,” she explains.
ATA International has a collective pool of experienced trainers and maintains high standards of education and boasts practical experience, which helps to ensure successful emergency training and, ultimately, response.
“High-quality education and training standards save lives,” she says.
However, ATA International relies on private companies and public–private partnership models for the funding of courses, especially in newly established and developing emergency systems.
ATA International invites organisations and governments to engage with it, specifically with regard to developing civil society emergency response systems, concludes De Montille.