Tour op­er­a­tors, res­cue ser­vice providers ready for emer­gen­cies

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business - Leonard Ncube in Vic­to­ria Falls

ZIM­BAB­WEAN tour op­er­a­tors and res­cue ser­vice providers are well equipped and ready to at­tend to any ad­ven­ture re­lated emer­gen­cies in­volv­ing tourists.

This is con­sis­tent with in­ter­na­tional best prac­tices so as to keep the coun­try a safe tourist des­ti­na­tion.

Tourists un­der­take var­i­ous ad­ven­ture ac­tiv­i­ties such as white wa­ter raft­ing, bungee jump­ing, ca­noe­ing, gorge swing, sun­set cruises, wildlife rides and game drives on the Zam­bezi River or in the preda­tor in­fested parks where they are ex­posed to dan­ger.

ACE Air and Am­bu­lance held a two day on-field train­ing on Mon­day and Tues­day to equip tour guides and paramedics on first aid, re­ac­tion time and pa­tient han­dling.

The train­ing in­volv­ing ACE paramedics, Shear­wa­ter and Wild Hori­zon guides and Zam­bezi He­li­copters staff, took place in the gorges where a mock he­li­copter evac­u­a­tion was done and a pa­tient was air­lifted from rapid Num­ber 10 fol­lowed by an­other imi­ta­tion of a plane crash at He­li­pad.

On Tues­day guides were trained on how to res­cue vic­tims on the gorge swing and bungee jump.

ACE Air and Am­bu­lance op­er­a­tions di­rec­tor Mr Mark Smythe said the train­ing was aimed at pre­par­ing Vic­to­ria Falls for any emer­gency and as­sure tourists of their safety.

“Re­mem­ber we had a tram ac­ci­dent two years ago, which re­sulted in a mas­sive out­cry from the world and we thought it is im­por­tant to as­sess our pre­pared­ness and as­sure the world that Zim­babwe is a safe des­ti­na­tion,” said Mr Smythe.

He said ACE ser­vices are ac­ces­si­ble to any vic­tim in tourist re­sorts such as Vic­to­ria Falls.

“As a cer­ti­fied air am­bu­lance and part of air­port dis­as­ter man­age­ment team in Harare and Vic­to­ria Falls, we are re­quired to have con­tin­u­ous train­ing. Vic­to­ria Falls has gone without this kind of pre­pared­ness for many years and what we are do­ing here is sim­u­lat­ing he­li­copter res­cue from any re­mote area to show how safe the coun­try is.

“Our ser­vice is not for the rich only but any­one on med­i­cal aid. How­ever, for this tourist zone and for the image of the coun­try we will ac­ti­vate the ser­vice to any­one even if they do not have med­i­cal aid cover be­cause our ob­jec­tive is to at­tract as many peo­ple into the coun­try as pos­si­ble by as­sur­ing them of safety dur­ing their stay as we are fully equipped,” said Mr Smythe.

ACE has six doc­tors and 46 medics and nurses, seven road am­bu­lances and one air am­bu­lance fully equipped with ICU equip­ment that can sus­tain life from a dis­tance of eight hours from a hos­pi­tal, Mr Smythe said.

The com­pany was es­tab­lished two years ago and serves the whole of Sadc re­gion es­pe­cially in DRC, Mozam­bique, Zam­bia, Malawi, South Africa and Zim­babwe as well as Kenya.

A sis­ter com­pany Hal­st­eds Avi­a­tion Cor­po­ra­tion pro­vides air am­bu­lances.

Mr James Hal­st­eds im­plored the im­por­tance of com­mu­ni­ca­tion between guides and their re­spec­tive of­fices for swift re­ac­tion.

Raft­ing As­so­ci­a­tion of Zim­babwe past pres­i­dent Mr Cephas Moyo wel­comed the train­ing as an im­por­tant part of ad­ven­ture ac­tiv­i­ties.

“The train­ing equips us on how to ap­proach a he­li­copter, which is very dan­ger­ous equip­ment what to do in cri­sis man­age­ment, han­dling of pa­tients, com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills and team lead­ing to make sure we all do the right thing. Some­times we have in­juries while raft­ing and res­cue al­ways dif­fer with case sit­u­a­tions,” he said.

Em­ploy­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion of Tourism and Sa­fari Op­er­a­tors pres­i­dent Mr Cle­ment Muk­wasi said it is ev­ery op­er­a­tor’s wish for Zim­babwe to re­main a des­ti­na­tion of choice.

“We are now in our high sea­son where num­bers are mas­sive and ad­ven­ture ac­tiv­i­ties carry risks. As much as we have not had se­ri­ous in­ci­dents lately, we need to stay pre­pared through up­grad­ing train­ing and re­fresher cour­ses if this des­ti­na­tion is to main­tain its sta­tus as a pre­ferred des­ti­na­tion in the world,” he said.

In 2012 a tourist fell off the bridge dur­ing bungee jump­ing and was swiftly res­cued by swift paramedics and guides while one tourist died while 20 others were in­jured in 2014 when a tram col­lided with a Na­tional Rail­ways of Zim­babwe train. The in­jured were air­lifted to South Africa for treat­ment. — @ncubeleon

Paramedics and guides at­tend to a pa­tient in a mock drill

Min­is­ter Wal­ter Chid­hakwa

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