Holland College | Advance Care Paramedicine students head to Belize
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Advance Care Paramedicine students head to Belize

by Sherri Hogan

For a number of years, the Advanced Care Paramedicine (ACP) classes at Holland College have spent their spring breaks travelling to different locations, examining a variety of emergency medical systems (EMS), and experiencing firsthand pre-hospital health care in complex metropolitan environments. This year, they have had a considerable change in focus and will be embarking on what they hope will be the first of many such missions.

In March, eight students and two instructors will travel to Belize to share their knowledge of paramedicine and to teach people from the area basic skills such as first aid and CPR. Belize is a small country in Central America which is in great need for health care. "This small Central American country is in the midst of an enormous healthcare reform project, and, as it turns out, our visit will be timely, and very well appreciated", says Darryl Chickness, Chairperson of the ACP 2003 class. "We have been in contact with doctors, and the administrators of the Belize Emergency Response Team, and they are clearly as excited as we are. Also we have made contacts with the island of Ambegris Caye in the town of San Pedro." This island has a population of approximately 10,000 people and very little to no medical training.

The students have created an organizational strategy and plan on delivering an academic-rich program during their brief stay in Belize. "The curriculum was developed based on their most pressing needs including trauma, multiple casualty incidents and cardiac emergencies", Chickness said. The students will also deliver supplies and equipment donated to them, such as bandages and oxygen cylinders. The students are looking for as many donations they can get, including text books. Monetary donations have also been made including some from Mark?s Work Warehouse and Emergency Medical Care Inc. Anyone wishing to make donations can call the Paramedicine program at (902) 629-4279.

The trip to Belize will cost about $26,000. As part of their fund-raising efforts, the advanced care paramedicine class recently had a lottery in which they sold $100 tickets for a grand prize of $10,000. The winning ticket was drawn by P.E.I. Health Minister Jamie Ballem and belonged to Jennifer Bugar, a physician from Calgary, Alberta.

Ballem said this project is different than previous years because the students will be applying teaching skills instead of learning. "This trip will have a much different benefit, not just for the students involved, but for the people of Belize as well," Ballem added. "The students would bring back knowledge and awareness of the rest of the world. We have students with the skills and training, why not share it?"

As summed up by Darryl Chickness, "this experience will afford us an opportunity to witness an EMS system in its infancy, and will test our skills as teachers as we assist them in their endeavor to improve".

For more information about this release, please contact:
Sara Underwood, Media and Communications Officer
Tel: 902-566-9695
Date: Friday, February 21, 2003