Run by the Red Cross, the training session was held at the Island Conservation Centre, Praslin, where the Cousin Island Wardens and other Nature Seychelles staff were put through their paces in a series of medical emergency role-playing exercises.
The first aid course – a refresher exercise for most of the staff, but a new experience for some – focused on how to give frontline CPR and deal with general medical emergencies, such as broken bones, bleeding and heart attacks.
“Our safety record on Cousin is second to none, but that doesn’t mean there is room for complacency,” said Nature Seychelles Scientific Coordinator Naomi Doak who flew over from Mahé to take part in the course.
“For those of us who already have some first aid training the course was a useful refresher, but for others who had no first aid experience it was a vital piece of training which could potentially help save lives,” she said.
The course follows on from a recent training activity conducted by Helicopter Seychelles to equip Cousin staff to coordinate helicopter landings and departures on the island in case the need for emergency medical evacuations should arise.
“A combination of the first aid training and the helicopter training means that the staff on Cousin are now fully equipped to deal with any medical emergencies the island can throw at them,” said Reserve Manager Ian Valmont.
“Cousin Island Special Reserve is a world-class conservation success story. But in order to share it with the world we must ensure that the island and its staff have the ability to cater for eco-tourists, researchers and scientists from around the world,” said Nature Seychelles CEO Nirmal Shah.
“Ensuring the safety of visitors to the island is, of course, a top priority,” he added.
A disaster preparedness study to be published soon by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) observes that management of Cousin Island Special Reserve has adopted an active process called “Emergency-mindedness”. It notes that during the period under study more than 80,000 visitors were ferried by the Cousin boats with only 3 minor boat accidents. There have been no serious or fatal accidents of any kind, one injured staff was medi-vaced by helicopter immediately, and no injuries have been caused by malfunctioning equipment.
The course was run by Red Cross trainer Nigel Hoareau, who has extensive experience both as a Red Cross volunteer and working with boats on Seychelles’ coastal waters.
“Nigel’s experience with the Coastguard and the Seychelles Centre for Marine Research and Technology, meant that he was able to give advice tailor-made to the needs of the Cousin staff, who spend a lot of time operating small boats and conducting beach landings,” said Mr Valmont at a post-training debriefing session.
Environmental conservation is the defining principle to work done on Cousin and if the needs of tourism proved incompatible with this aim the island management would cancel tourist visits to Cousin. However, with the right structures in place Cousin Island Special Reserve can continue to be a world class nature reserve and a fun and educational day out for visitors to Seychelles.