Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Niagara paramedics heading to Cambodia

via CAAI News Media

Posted By Rahul Gupta Special to the Standard

For his upcoming holiday, Danny Kerr won't be spending his time going sightseeing or relaxing poolside.

Instead, the St. Catharines resident will jump on a plane headed for Cambodia to provide medical training to the locals.

Kerr is a member of GlobalMedic, a Canadian organization that deploys teams of volunteer emergency medical services workers who spend their vacation days providing assistance and training to disaster-stricken and impoverished areas around the world.

On April 15, he and fellow Niagara paramedic Shane Eickmann will join a 16-member team of paramedics, nurses, police officers and firefighters for a mission to Cambodia. For two weeks, the group will help set up medical clinics, provide vaccinations and administer basic first aid to Cambodians.

The team will also liaise with on-the-ground NGOs to deliver medical supplies and equipment, as well as provide emergency medical training and help set up water filtration systems. Kerr will also spend a few days providing advanced medical training to medical personnel from MAG, a landmine clearing group that has undertaken the task of removing some of the five million explosive devices from the country.

Kerr, who had some experience travelling to other countries for missionary work prior to joining GlobalMedic, said he was skeptical at first of the ability of the organization to make a difference on a shoestring budget.

"I had a meeting with (executive director) Rahul Singh and it sounded too good to be true to do all of what he said could be done without any overhead," he said. "But after doing my own research, I realized 95% of what he said turned out to be correct."

GlobalMedic requires its members to fundraise for their trips. To raise money, Kerr and Eickmann turned to various Niagara EMS organizations for support. Needing $1,000 each for airfare, accommodations and meals, the pair —with the help of a team of volunteers — co-ordinated a fundraising plan that netted almost $15,000 and secured two tons of surplus medical equipment for donation to Cambodia.

"Ninety nine per cent of our fundraising volunteers were from the Niagara area," Kerr said.

Kerr and Eickmann will hold a special party on Friday at the Port Dalhousie Lion's Club as a show of gratitude for volunteers who helped co-ordinate the donation drive.

In addition to raising funds for GlobalMedic, Kerr and Eickmann held information sessions to help get the word out about the agency. Their efforts netted a significant level of interest from the Niagara emergency services community.

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