Do you volunteer?
| 19 October 2011
The ASA is interested in the activities of its members, especially those who volunteer their time and skills to assist those in need. In recognition of these volunteers, we’re dedicating the April edition of the ASA news to ‘world anaesthesia’ and shining the spotlight on those members who volunteer.
One such member who has been actively volunteering for the Sydney-based charity Operation Restore Hope is Dr Ian Woodforth, NSW Committee Chair. Operation Restore Hope runs trips to the Philippines to assist with cleft lip and palate operations. We hope you enjoy this exert from Dr Woodforth on the good work being done by Operation Restore Hope in the Philippines:
There is no shortage of qualified anaesthetists in the Philippines, however, many of the poor and those without health insurance can’t afford the surgery. Operation Restore Hope supplies all drugs, sutures, instruments, linen and even the beds and operating lights, diathermy machines, pulse oximeters and suckers, not to mention anaesthetic machines. We are able to obtain sevoflurane which is donated, and with oxygen 100% and spontaneous breathing makes a safe and relatively simple anaesthetic. The local Rotary Club finds the patients by advertising in the press and on radio, and by using contacts in the outer islands.
One of the major challenges in this type of work, apart from keeping a large group of volunteers working happily together over a number of years, is organising and setting up all the equipment so that everything works effectively and safely. The Philippines uses 240 volt power and most of the donated equipment is a mix of 240 and 110 volts so the potential for disaster through failing to use a transformer, when needed, is clear. We’ve gradually collected good anaesthetic machines which have been discarded in Australia, and I had a small one made which I described in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care.
Increasingly, patients are treated while still in their infant years, reflecting the greater safety standards being achieved by visiting teams. This will also allow the children to learn to speak properly.
If you volunteer, or know someone who does, let us know – we’d love to tell your story!
In all my time on medical committees and in St John Ambulance I cant recall a knockback from a colleague when asked for assistance either to do something, give of their knowledge or provide cover so that I could act. These silent helpers should be acknowledged. In my time St John volunteers were at the forefront of, and maintained over several days, the medical response to the Canberra bushfires, they led the introduction of automatic defibrillators into first aid protocols and into the community. The ACT branch has been sending volunteers into refuges, prisons and the like teaching basic CPR etc. This has resulted in the saving of lives from overdose as well as installing a sense of self worth. Not all volunteering needs to be overseas to be worthwhile.