I had always thought that today was going to be stressful, in terms of logistics and making sure the right instructors were in the right place with the right group. On the day, it worked perfectly – largely thanks to the professionalism of the newly qualified team of Lebanese Survive & Save Instructors.
I think the main thing that I learnt today was that a Lebanese “two minutes” is in fact a lot longer than a British “two minutes” although nowhere near as a long as a Sudanese “two seconds”.
So we had nine instructors delivering in rotation to six groups of kids – all day. Honestly, it was a joy to be part of it. It was a hugely rewarding experience to see how their confidence had grown since the first teaching on Friday, and watching the “comfort blanket” of the RLSS waterproof manual move from being in front of them, to being beside them, to being somewhere around nearby.
There were some great lessons, and some inspiring use of resources – including the British Heart Foundation CPR app to get the song Staying Alive to get the kids compressing at the chest at the correct speed. A personal highlight was the theory session around the risks of cold water being delivered practically in the outdoor pool. A lot of fun was had by all.
Innovation from the kids too – a great Shout & Signal rescue from one boy who was tempting is casualty to the sure with the promise of pizza & chocolate. I had a chat with many of them at the end of the day, and they were all excited and looking forward to tomorrow – they had most enjoyed the rescues, the rope throwing, and the CPR the most. Lovely to see such engagement, and range of enjoyment – shows me that all the instructors were doing a good job. We are both really proud of our newly fledged instructors, and we are looking forward to being impressed tomorrow with half of the students coming to the final assessment stage on Sunday afternoon.
Afterwards, we had a very pleasant meal in the town, on the street which is clearly the place to cruise down with your girlfriend in your shiny car.
Quite a humbling moment for me, as we chatted and learnt more about what people did in their daily lives. When they had introduced themselves at the start of the training course, everybody had explained that they work for the red cross, and they are frontline emergency services. What they neglected to say, was that they had full-time jobs as architects, graphic designers, and marketing managers amongst other things… and volunteered for the Red Cross. They work in a team of 10-13 and do a twelve hour night shift once a week, which is often very busy – back-to-back jobs, and then a full weekend from Friday night to Monday morning once every five weeks – during which they often do not sleep because there are so many jobs. They do this for free, and they do this against the wishes of their parents, as it is considered a dangerous job – that they are not paid to do.
During the war, there were many attacks and bombs that they had to deal with – quite literally in the line of fire. They carry quite advanced medical equipment – not as much as a UK paramedic, but on a par with a UK Ambulance Technician (not sure about the drugs administration over here – but they definitely do ATLS)… except they are not paid, but still work to maintain the skill level. They also have a technical rope rescue team who are very busy, as there are many accidents with vehicles falling off the sides of the mountain roads. Again, they do this for free, with donated equipment.
Kinda puts the UK Fire Service strikes into perspective.
Like I said. Humbling, to sit at the dinner table with these incredible lovely warm people – who do all that, for free, and then give up their time this week to learn a new set of lifesaving skills in order to teach others. Truly humbling, and I am grateful that I got to work with them.