Cook Islands in safe, prepared hands

Friday September 18, 2015 Written by Published in Health
Pauline Davison from St John’s in New Zealand is running the fi rst responder course at the Rarotonga Hospital. Pauline Davison from St John’s in New Zealand is running the fi rst responder course at the Rarotonga Hospital.

The Cook Islands will be in safe hands in the event of an emergency, with more members of the community becoming capable first responders.


More than 90 people from all sections of the community have take part in a first response course for emergencies, with the final group completing their training this week.

Participants include representatives from police, crash fire, ambulance staff, fire service groups, canoeing groups and some community members.

This is the third course of its kind in the Cook Islands, run by St John’s New Zealand on behalf of New Zealand Aid.

Course coordinator, Pauline Davison says the positive impacts this training has had in the community and the opportunity for information sharing it has provided, have been huge.

“People were getting together before they came into the workshop, and the relationship building has been really intense.”

Davison says the importance of this training is to ensure the best possible pre-hospital emergency care.

“It’s about how to save a life from the first intervention. It’s about being a first responder and getting patients to hospital with the best possible outcome.”

She says the training goes a long way to keep people alive, and if that knowledge can be shared with amongst the community, even better.

Davison says they also encourage the trainees to go back home, and to work, and share their skills and experience with families and friends so more people are capable of doing something in a cardiac arrest or in an accident.

Davison has been visiting the Cook Islands on holiday for about 14 years, and in that time, she says she has done a lot of volunteer work with the local ambulance officers.

When this opportunity came up, she says she was excited to be chosen to carry out the training.

“It’s been fantastic. I can pick up as much from these guys as much as I can bring to them.”

Davison says as well as teaching the course, she is also learning a lot and gathering a lot of information to take back and apply to her work in New Zealand.

When talking about the kind of community the Cook Islands is, in regards to this training, Davison says she has found locals to be very open.

“They are engaged and really enthusiastic. It really shows the power of a community coming together to support each other.”

New ambulance manager, Charlie Numanga, says the beauty of this training is the first-hand experience from a St John’s officer.

He says it’s been great to learn the theory, policy and procedure behind being a first responder, as well as the practical skills.

“The great thing about these skills is that you are the one who can make a difference and save a life. It’s not the ambulance, or the nurses, or the doctors. It’s you, a member of the community.” Numanga says he has seen the benefit of this kind of training for non-medical staff in his role with the Red Cross.

“It’s great for this group to take things that next step further in terms of being prepared for an emergency.” 

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