Stories of Change

U Myint Swe shares first aid basics at a recent training session.

First Aid training has the potential to save lives in rural Myanmar

U Myint Swe has been helping drowning and bike accident victims since 1979 as a Red Cross volunteer. The 54-year-old retired police sergeant first earned a First Aid Trainer certificate in 1986, and then he went through a refresher course in 2000. Since then, he has led or co-led at least 30 basic First Aid courses with the Myanmar Red Cross Society. 

U Myint recently led a five-day, 35-hour First Aid training for three villages in Myanmar’s Ayeyarwady River delta region, where CWS partners with families and village leaders to promote community-based resilience and development. In all, 36 volunteers from Auk Htone, Bar Ma Nee and Ma Yan Kone villages joined the training event. Through instructor demonstrations, directing and coaching, everyone learned to dress wounds and treat burns/scalding and insect bites. The key topics of head injuries and CPR were also covered. Trainees completed a written, verbal and practical test at the end of the course. Four co-trainers led the course, and all participants were greatly appreciative for the chance to learn new, and reinforce known, information and skills.

Because many accidents and injuries happen around the house, U Myint believes First Aid skills are essential for every family, not just health care workers, firemen and emergency responders. And yet, it takes time and resources to reach every village family. Luckily, the Myanmar Red Cross–CWS partnership has made First Aid classes affordable and accessible to more villages, where certified trainers like U Myint thrive with engaged and enthusiastic trainees. Active participants fuel his motivation to make sure topics are easy to understand and practical to use because, most of all, skills must be memorable – and second nature – to use as needed.

U Myint knows from experience using CPR to save three drowning villagers that First Aid is a valuable life skill. He is thankful to CWS for ongoing support and collaboration with the Red Cross. “The most recent training was a success because trainees participated with enthusiasm, and we trainers were very motivated, So, it was worthwhile to feel tired,” he concluded.