The Armed conflict and other situations of violence often pose challenges to the delivery of appropriate medical care for wounded people. Wounded fighters and civilians caught in the crossfire may sustain serious wounds that require life-saving medical attention. Unfortunately in conflict situations, access to healthcare services may become difficult due to the dangers faced by healthcare workers or healthcare facilities. Facilities would either be damaged, shut down, or ill-equipped, while health care workers may also be unable to provide appropriate care in such conditions.
The participants of these three-day trainings belonged to the General Staff and the health and dental departments from six MILF fronts in Mindanao. The training included common first-aid topics such as wound management, handling different types of fractures, bandaging techniques, evacuating the wounded, and basic principles in providing first aid.
“The skills gained from the training will support the MILF health staff to provide proper first aid for wounded fighters or civilians even before they reach the nearest health facility,” said Tomoko Matsuzawa, head of the ICRC office in Cotabato City.
“Apart from enhancing their first-aid skills, we also discussed the conduct of hostilities and the need to protect the wounded and sick as it is the primary responsibility of armed groups, under international humanitarian law (IHL), to provide appropriate medical care,” she added.
Simulation exercises using scenarios based on the participants’ experiences in rendering first aid were held. To mimic real life, the participants were asked to give first aid to “patients” using resources available in the field like banana leaves and tree branches.
The training culminated with a mass-casualty exercise where participants applied what they learned from the training and their previous experiences as health personnel. The ICRC provided first-aid kits with dressing sets to the participants and encouraged them to provide first-aid training for wounded patients. The participants appreciated the hands-on training as well as its concern for victims of armed conflicts.
The ICRC has also been conducting first-aid training for rural health units and conflict-affected communities, together with the Philippine Red Cross, to enhance their capacity to respond to emergencies such as armed conflict and natural disaster. As part of its mandate to protect victims of armed conflict, the ICRC promotes the awareness of and respect for IHL or the law of armed conflict among weapon bearers.