In one corner of Idlib province, lack of medical staff ‘has led to fatal mistakes’


October 29, 2015

Alarmed by “fatal mistakes” from well-intentioned but untrained first responders, doctors, nurses and other medical personnel are volunteering their time to teach citizens in rebel-held Jabal a-Zawiya how to properly treat medical emergencies.

The course is necessary, says Ali al-Atiq, a pharmacist and part of the training team, because of the lack of trained medical professionals in Jabal a-Zawiya, a mountainous region in northern Idlib province made up of over 30 villages.

There, as in the rest of northern Syria, regime forces have indiscriminately targeted hospitals and clinics, exacerbating the already dire medical situation there.

Whether it’s moving someone the wrong way after a bombing or learning basic first aid, the three-month program will prepare volunteer first responders “for work in the field,” al-Atiq tells Syria Direct’s Abdulrahman Salah.

Q: Why are you starting this training now?

The reason is the worsening medical situation in all the rebel-controlled areas generally, and the areas being bombarded or blockaded specifically. The lack of medical teams has led to fatal mistakes, in addition to thousands of people becoming paralyzed due to minor wounds being left untreated. For that reason, medical teams will be trained and certified for work in the field.

Q: What “fatal mistakes” are commonly made in the field?

For example, you can’t remove shrapnel from an injury to the head until you move him to the closest medical station. A hemorrhaging artery can be fatal if you don’t know how to properly stanch the bleeding. So can not knowing how to properly set fractures or how to differentiate between medicines.

Q: Describe the training program.

The training period lasts for three months and is divided up into two stages. Areas of learning include: First aid, dissection and physiology, medicines and treatments, diseases and ailments, and medical terminology. In the second stage, we plan to train them in field clinics in order to ensure that they are fully prepared.

Q: What are the qualifications of the team overseeing the training? What areas will they cover?

The medical team is made up of two doctors, two nurses, and a pharmacist. The program will cover all of the villages in Jabal a-Zawiya.

Q: Who is funding this initiative?

No one is funding this program. The trainers are volunteers without any salary and the preparations for the training were paid for by citizens.

Q: Who was accepted into the program and when will actual training begin?

A lot of young men from Jabal a-Zawiya were accepted and training will begin this coming Saturday (October 31).

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