Lifesaving lessons in Gambia
grandmother and former nurse from the North East has just
returned from a trip to the Gambia - after giving
lifesaving tips to people in the local
Kate Slavin, 61 delivered much-needed first aid
training and has encouraged her students to spread their
new knowledge into every corner of their communities.
Kate, from Consett in County Durham, used resuscitation and
first aid equipment donated by St John Ambulance Northumbria to
teach her potentially life saving training courses, fulfilling a
pledge she made to herself after witnessing needless death
and illness among the local people during her Gambian
holidays. And she’s going back again next month to check on her
She said: 'My husband Ged and I have spent our holidays in the
Gambia for the past eight years and I have often helped out in
quite a low-key way, talking about first aid in schools and
demonstrating basic skills,' she said.
'But when a friend of ours collapsed and died last year while we
were there, I decided I needed to do more. No-one knew how to help
him, medical conditions aren’t great over there and it just brought
home to me the importance of basic first aid in those first few
minutes after someone is taken ill.'
So Kate contacted her friends at St John Ambulance Northumbria
who donated resuscitation manikins, bandages, slings, medi-wipes
and boxes of gloves, which were beyond everyday use.
Work colleagues of both Ged and Kate, and people she didn’t know
who contacted her by e-mail, also made donations to cover the cost
of the excess baggage to transport the equipment. Then she headed
back to her holiday hotel in Kotu to teach 35 hotel workers, taxi
drivers and market traders how to deal with injuries including
bleeds, burns, broken bones and bumps to the head.
I made them (first aid students) promise to show at least two other people their booklets and what they had learned, and then ask those two to teach another two and so on.
'The course went really well and I hope the students will take
their new found knowledge back to their homes and communities to
share their skills with their friends and families. I made them
promise to show at least two other people their booklets and what
they had learned, and ask those two to teach another two and so
'They all listened and worked hard to learn the new skills and
promised to spread the word about the importance of first aid which
is brilliant – although a few joked that they had told their wives
and girlfriends that they needed to practise the mouth to mouth
resuscitation on a regular basis! I hope I am not going to be
responsible for a baby boom!'
Kate left the resuscitation models at the hotel and all the
students were told that if they wanted to borrow them to
demonstrate first aid in schools, community centres or the
workplace then they had only to ask.
She said: 'I will evaluate when we return at the end of February
if they have been utilized and find out whether anyone has had to
use their training, and I will report back to St John Ambulance and
all those who have been so supportive.'
Kate added: 'I used to be a nurse and I keep my first aid
training up to date – and it was when I took part in a refresher
course run by St John Ambulance Northumbria that I decided that was
the way to help, by running first aid courses for hotel staff and
taxi drivers in the Gambia.
'St John Ambulance donated some surplus training kit which they
would ordinarily replace, and it formed a key part of the training.
It’s just a little thing, but it’s a way of giving something back
to this wonderful country where we have spent so many happy
Alan Percy, the training co-ordinator at St John Ambulance
Northumbria, said: 'We are glad Kate’s first course was such a
success and were pleased to be able to support her by donating
first aid supplies that we no longer required, but which proved to
be of great use for her first aid courses.
'Like Kate, St John Ambulance believes everyone should have a
basic knowledge of first aid. Such skills really can be the
difference between life and death. We wish her every success with
passing on her first aid knowledge to others.'
Anyone wishing to donate medical supplies for Kate’s next trip
should contact her via email.