Board members Chris and Ethan, with the assistance of student volunteers, taught CPR and emergency first-aid lessons in communities across the northern Pantanal. These lessons reached ambulance workers in Poconé, service providers at APAE (a residential treatment facility for children with disabilities) and members of the ecotourism industry in the Pantanal, including boat drivers and tour guides. Rural hospitals and remote fazedas are often short on experienced staff, and this training is crucial when doctors and full-service hospitals could be several hours away. During these lessons, students viewed a video (dubbed in Portuguese) produced by the American Heart Association. Chris and Ethan supplemented this video with additional instruction and facilitated practice using CPR dummies. Finally, Chris, Minna, and Julien developed and delivered a new presentation to teachers in Cangas describing common mental health issues, with the overall aim of reducing the stigma of mental illness as a character deficit.
During 2016 the Juara Foundation, with help from numerous teachers and the local Secretary of Health, was able to broaden their healthcare and language education outreach programming to address new areas, both geographical and conceptual. Next year we will continue to refine our approach and hopefully expand our curriculum to new schools and new targeted groups. Father out in the extremely remote parts of the Pantanal, where the nearest doctor can be a full day's journey away or farther, we're also researching the possibility of installing telemedicine clinics. These would use technology to connect people over an internet connection with doctors in real time to provide life-saving medical advice and diagnoses.
This past summer, University of Michigan student volunteers Minna Wybrecht, Julien Heidt, and Eli Levia combined to develop and deliver multiple lessons to various communities in the Pantanal. Eli, Minna, and Julien traveled to public schools in Poconé and Cangas, Mato Grosso and also spent time each weekend teaching at a one-room schoolhouse that serves a rural community living at the Jofre Velho ranch. Lessons covered public health topics, including dietary health risks like diabetes and hypertension, and experimentation around proper hand-washing technique.
This student group displayed many strengths over the course of the summer. However, what may have been most impressive was their collective ability to bridge language barriers in order to creatively and effectively present their information. Minna brought spices into the classroom, allowing students to experiment with alternatives to traditional food additives like salt and sugar. To teach proper hand washing, Julien facilitated a classroom experiment where several students washed their hands in one of two conditions: either bar soap and water – or water alone. Students then used a spray known as Glo Germ to observe the bacteria still present on their hands. During English instruction, Eli drew her vocabulary lessons from students’ areas of interest and created instructional games to maintain student engagement. Students are generally at their most attentive when instruction is engaging and interactive, so it was heartening to see the effort and planning that these volunteer put into their lessons, with the goal of engaging students and not merely lecturing them.
The Child/Adult CPR and First Aid course provides individuals without access to traditional emergency response resources the skills to identify and treat life-threatening illnesses such as heart attack, stroke, and cardiac arrest. Many people live and work in remote areas with unreliable or lengthy hospital transportation. Taking this into consideration, our course emphasizes early identification of illnesses and life-saving techniques such as CPR and rescue breathing that greatly increase the survival rates of victims and allow time for the arrival of advanced medical services.
The rural health care program started in the summer of 2012 with a couple impromptu CPR lessons taught to the children and staff of the Nazaré orphange. At that point we were using pillows for compression dummies, but 2013 expanded the project in both geography and scope. The CPR lessons grew into a three-day course covering patient assessment, basic life support skills, and rudimentary injury treatments like bandaging and splinting. Children and adults in two local schools participated in the course, practicing on CPR dummies and using common items like magazines for splinting. The kids actually splinted a course instructor to the point where he couldn't move anymore; they eventually let him go.
In the summer of 2014, a course instructor traveled down the Cuiabá and Paraguai Rivers in the Pantanal region of Brazil as part of the Transtec Pantanal Healthcare Project. Members from riverside communities participated in a CPR course held at a field station. Many individuals also took the opportunity to ask health-related questions relating to important topics such as diet, blood pressure, and wound care.
Course instructors will be in Brazil in the future, and are also expanding the reach of the programs to Nepal and other areas of the developing world. In Nepal, instructors are working with the National Ambulance Service to teach not only the public in rural areas, but also EMTs throughout the country.