ALERT educates and trains people on emergency response and first aid.

You witness an accident, the person is bleeding profusely, you just stand by and watch, not knowing how to help. The victim gasps for breath, waits for help and eventually dies a painful death. A life is lost because you did nothing, or didn’t have the knowledge. With accident rates increasing in the city, it is important for people to understand the need for first aid and for the Government to spread an awareness about it. ALERT, a non-profit organisation, has taken up the job of educating and training people on emergency response and first aid. The organisation was started in October 2006 by a group of young, service-mined professionals who share a vision of a society which is well aware and compassionate about the needs of others. ALERT has till today trained about 20,000 people across Tamil Nadu including places such as Namakkal, Erode and Dindugul. A volunteer-driven organisation, ALERT conducts regular workshops for wide range of clients. The training is free of cost. Kala Balasundaram, the founder-trustee and president of ALERT, says one of their major clients is corporates.

“We have been approached by service industry, security agencies, IT companies to conduct workshops for the employees. We go to their premises and conduct training.” The workshops are divided into two segments. One deals with basic life support which includes CPR, and the other deals with common medical emergencies including fractures, burns, fainting, seizures, venomous stings, bleeding (internal and external), etc. The workshop goes on for three to four hours, but depending on the time availability, training session can be abridged or split into two days. “We customise the session according to the need of our audience,” she adds. The curriculum has been jointly developed and approved by the Indian Medical Association. ALERT has 800 registered volunteers, of which 25 are active core members of the group. Not every volunteer can become a trainer. For an individual to become one, he or she has to undergo special training for three to four months, attend workshops to learn on the ground. Once the organisation believes the individual is ready to take over as trainer, he or she is let into the field.

Talking about awareness on first aid, Kala says it has increased over the years, mainly due to the increase in number of accidents and fatalities involved. On the response of public to their efforts, she says “We get a lot of calls for conducting training these days. As all our volunteers are employed, we don’t have training on day-to-day basis, and there is no training centre. Based on the client and availability of our trainers we conduct the session.” The workshops are followed by an interactive session, where the participants are encouraged to ask questions. Moreover, it is a hands-on session where participants are asked to try the demonstration on mannequins.

On people choosing not to help during accidents, fearing frequent visit to police station and other legal hassles, Kala says, “Under the law, people have a choice to say ‘no’ to becoming a witness in an accident case. The police cannot force anyone.”

“The message we are trying to convey is that one does not have to be a doctor to save lives. One only needs the knowledge and training about techniques of emergency response,” she adds.

ALERT is located at No. 14, Second Floor, Venkatesan Street, T. Nagar. For details, you can log on to www.alert-wecare.org or call 99440 66002.

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Workshops & EducationMay 14, 2012