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.