Spotlight Nonprofit: Improving the odds of natural disaster survival in third-world countries with first responder education


LatinaLista — When disaster hits countries like Haiti, Guatemala, rural areas of Mexico, etc. the loss of life usually rises after the initial tragedy for one simple reason — medical personnel on the scene don’t know how to respond.

It was while New York nursing professor Jackie Cassagnol was in Haiti last year during a training session that she heard that if only people had known how to treat those hurt in the devastating earthquake that more lives could have been saved. That simple observation made a lasting impression on Cassagnol.

Though she was born in Brooklyn, Cassagnol’s family is from Haiti, where she still has relatives. Cassagnol was devastated by the loss of life and ongoing suffering happening in the country. Realizing that unless a doctor or nurse has specific training in how to respond to emergency situations, they can be as helpless as a disaster’s victims. After hearing that not enough people knew how to administer basic first aid, Cassagnol set out on a mission to do improve the odds of survivors and knowledge of first responders.

Cassagnol created Worldwide Community First Responder (WCFR). The mission of the organization is to “prevent deaths worldwide through education and training.” Cassagnol developed an education program teaching medical personnel in Haiti how to respond to emergency situations.

In the sessions, she taught them about stroke, drowning and heat-related injuries, first aid, how to treat burn injuries, disease prevention, hygiene and safety and diabetes.

Cassagnol has also created a separate disaster preparedness training program where she teaches the responders such things as: disaster operations, scene assessment, light search and rescue, basic anatomy and physiology for first responder, rapid evaluation of disaster victims, assessment and monitoring of vital signs and mental status, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, wound care, immobilization and transport and dealing with emotional stress in a disaster.

Given the amount of natural disasters happening around the world, it’s a safe bet that the mission of WCFR will be put into practice time over time.