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Caritas provides first aid training to fishermen

Caritas prepares crews to deal with emergencies

Around 10,000 fishing families live in Kalpitiya Around 10,000 fishing families live in Kalpitiya
  • ucanews.com reporter, Chilaw
  • Sri Lanka
  • April 18, 2012
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The lives of small-scale fishermen are fraught with dangers as they work in uncertain and shifting seas as many as 50 km from the coast.

For men who spend the bulk of their time on the ocean, the lack of any emergency training remains widespread.

In an effort to equip fishermen with the skills to handle emergency situations at sea, Caritas Chilaw has for the last two months held training programs in Uchchumune and Kalpitiya islands.

The most common emergencies cited by Caritas Chilaw include drowning, broken bones and fish-hook snares.

“First aid training can save lives at sea,” said Father Abraham Barnaba, director of Caritas Chilaw.

“We selected 250 volunteers among the fishermen from five villages in Kalpitiya and trained them in the basics of first aid,” he said.

Dinesh Suranjan Fernando, general secretary of the All Ceylon Fisher Folk Union, said the range of emergencies that happen at sea – from simple illnesses to drowning – required emergency skills that would allow crew members to keep them alive until they could be transported to hospital.

“All crew members should receive at least basic training so they can prevent even minor wounds from becoming more serious,” he said.

Sylvester Anthony, a participant in the training, says the program he attended covered basic CPR techniques to revive drowning victims.

Red Cross members have been enlisted to help with training, and Kamilton Silva, an animator with Caritas Chilaw, says the programs will make conditions on the country’s fishing vessels much safer.

“We have already created volunteer groups and are encouraging all fishermen to maintain two first-aid boxes, one on board their boats and a second in their homes.”

Government officials have also lent their support to the efforts. The Fisheries ministry recently distributed lifeguard equipment, sea coats and first-aid boxes in Chilaw, which is home to more than 66,000 fishing families.

While fishermen in the country make just over US$5 per day, the industry is an essential part of the economy. It accounts for 1.2 percent of gross domestic product and provides direct or indirect employment to about 650,000 people.
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