Volunteerism: Hands Up for Health

Most of my friends can vouch for my passion in volunteerism. When I moved to London, I have been in constant search for organizations that I can volunteer with. But I really didn't need to look far as the opportunity was right at my doorstep. One day at work, I searched for volunteer work on the intranet and Hands Up for Health came up. After reading a few information about the progaramme, I knew I have found the perfect place to volunteer. So I immediately emailed the programme manager, Dr. Beth Thomas and it was not long until I had my first "go" at Hands Up for Health.

Hands Up for Health aims to provide young people (from Lambeth and Southwark) a hands-on experience in dealing with true to life situations.  Young learners get the chance to care for patients (in the form of talking and breathing mannequins). This way, they get an insight of what really goes on in the hospital. Hands Up for Health provides experience to young pupils that helps "promote health, science and healthcare careers". 

The amazing work that this organization does to educate pupils at such a young age about healthcare inspired me to volunteer the second time around. 

The training took place at the Simulation and Interactive Learning (SaIL) Centre at St Thomas Hospital. I arrived at the centre early enough for the team briefing led by Dr. Thomas. As the group of pupils were running late, I had the opportunity to take some photos so I can share with you how the training centre looks like.

As I mentioned earlier, there are mannequins and they are life-sized ones.

This is a breathing and talking mannequin. As you can see, the area is set up as it is in a hospital ward.

One of the work stations where the pupils can be shown how to take and give blood.

Work Station

The day's simulation was on Basic Life Support (BLS). The pupils were given a scenario by the facilitators (volunteers). I was the actor and played as the person who called for help because my friend "Jeff" collapsed on the floor. As soon as the pupils arrived at the scene, they took over and I was so amazed at how much knowledge and skills they had. They maybe 15-17 year olds, but they certainly knew how to deliver a life-saving care to the patient.

They dealt with the situation as if they were dealing with a real life situation. They certainly knew how to assess the patient for airway, breathing and circulation. When they have established that the airway was patent, but the patient was not breathing and didn't have a pulse, they immediately commenced CPR.  And believe me, they performed it like a pro. 

Although we were there to facilitate (and educate), we allowed the pupils to lead the scenario.  I must say that their awareness of what was going on was unbelievable. They were orientated with some of the hospital procedures, good at history taking and confident on reassuring the patient. I could see from their actions that their ultimate goal was to save the patient's life (and they successfully did). At such a young age, they were already acting like professionals. 

At the end of the scenario, the pupils were given a few minutes to reflect on their experience and was given the opportunity to ask any questions. It is really reassuring that these young people are confident enough to help anyone who may be in a life threatening situation. They performed better than I expected and they were very disciplined.

My experience with Hands Up for Health is one thing that I can really be proud of. Not only that I am able to share my knowledge, experience and skills, but I also get to work with amazing volunteers and most especially meet young people who have huge potentials and interests in healthcare. To be able to volunteer for an organisation like this is very rewarding. This is basically one of the better ways on how I can spend my days off from now on. I am looking forward to more volunteer days with Hands Up for Health.

Hands Up if you are willing to give up your day off to something as worthwhile as volunteering for Hands Up for Health. And Hands Up if after reading this you will entrust your life to a 15, 16 or 17 year old who has done a proper training with an organization like Hands Up for Health.

And how have you been spending your days off work?


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