New Zealand Permanent Mission Geneva, Switzerland

Cate Keville Teaching First Aid in the Pacific

Cate Keville never dreamed she would end up as a New Zealand Red Cross aid worker but now she’s in the job she couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

A trained primary school teacher, Cate has always been confident in front of a class, and after four years teaching first aid in Wellington, the Pacific “training the trainers” job seemed like a logical next step and a good way to step out of her comfort zone.

She recently trained several new first aid instructors at Kiribati Red Cross Society, doubling their total number of instructors, meaning they can visit more villages to teach life saving first aid, and also earn an income from teaching first aid commercially.

“Raising their confidence was a big part of the job. It was so satisfying to be able to increase their first aid capability, whether it’s for a disaster or simply going into the community to give village demonstrations."

“Teaching them also increased my own confidence and mentoring skills – they taught me a lot.”

Cate says the village first aid training is showing its worth already.

“One instructor went into a village called Bonriki and gave a first aid demonstration and the very next day a man who had attended saved his young neighbour from drowning."

“Another instructor taught first aid in the village of Betio, and a grandmother she taught has since saved her baby granddaughter from choking twice, and treated many other people in the village for injuries like burns."

“It’s great to see them passing on the skills I’ve taught them, and it makes me feel like I’m making a real difference.”   

Cate has just returned from her second mission in Suva, Fiji where like Kiribati, she spent her time training first aid instructors.

There are of course challenges when teaching in the field, for instance Cate often finds the number of participants may be more than planned, there may be different or no resources, and at times no water or electricity.

These challenges are largely outweighed by the experiences Cate has while teaching.

“They give me many ideas and in turn I challenge them, make them laugh, confuse them at times, but we get through a fantastic programme. They are a total inspiration and a joy to teach.” 

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