To-be paramedics help out in Peru


A bunch of South Auck­land’s fu­ture paramedics re­cently vis­ited Peru to help doc­tors and nurses with check­ups and triage.

The 13 paramedicine stu­dents from Auck­land Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy (AUT) have re­turned after a self-funded, two-week med­i­cal vol­un­teer­ing trip to Cusco in Peru.

Five of the stu­dents are from in South Auck­land. The ex­pe­di­tion was ini­ti­ated by tahuhu res­i­dent Sofie Hea­phy, who is study­ing a Bach­e­lor of Health Science in Paramedicine.

An in­ter­na­tional vol­un­teer­ing dur­ing a high school kapa haka trip to Hawaii steered her to plan this trip.

‘‘I wanted to vol­un­teer abroad again and thought it would be more fun with friends. So, I asked my class­mates to join me,’’ Hea­phy says.

They started fundrais­ing last year and signed up with In­ter­na­tional Vol­un­teer HQ.

Cusco is a town si­t­u­ated out­side the heav­ily vis­ited Machu Pic­chu.

The stu­dents weren’t en­tirely pre­pared for the hard life that was to come.

‘‘It re­ally opened our eyes to the poor health con­di­tions that ex­ist. The lo­cal peo­ple lead very hard lives,’’ Hea­phy says.

‘‘There was a pa­tient with a snapped Achilles ten­don who didn’t re­ceive treat­ment for three months. And, when he did, the doc­tor pre­scribed him Ibupro­fen.’’

New Zealand has a very good health sys­tem com­pared to Peru, she says.

‘‘I def­i­nitely learned the value of a func­tion­ing pub­lic health sys­tem.’’

‘‘This was an amaz­ing op­por­tu­nity to de­velop our skills, ex­pe­ri­ence the health sys­tem in an­other coun­try and trans­fer this knowl­edge to our prac­tice here in New Zealand.’’

The only sim­i­lar­ity be­tween Cusco and South Auck­land, she says, is that ev­ery­one looks after ev­ery­one.

As a fu­ture paramedic, she would like to see paramedic regis­tra­tion and ex­panded scope of prac­tice for paramedics in ru­ral ar­eas.

‘‘In­creased health pro­mo­tion, as well as paramedics trained in health pro­mo­tion and com­mu­nity en­gage­ment, in ar­eas like South Auck­land, would help ed­u­cate pa­tients re­gard­ing any in­juries or ill­nesses and help to pre­vent fur­ther ad­mis­sions to hos­pi­tal,’’ she says.

A blog, Paramedics in Peru, doc­u­ments their ex­pe­ri­ence.

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