Editorial comment – Why we must value first aid

Ratu Ritova Baleilevuka (left) with Meli Kapaiwai, the man who saved his life at the Malevu Village foreshore. Picture SUPPLIED

THE report yesterday about quick action by a man to save the life of a diver at the Coral Coast last week was interesting.

Meli Kapaiwai, a road foreman, was travelling with his family along the Queens Rd, Malevu, when he came across a group of villagers standing around the seemingly lifeless body of Ratu Ritova Baleilevuka.

As the report stated, Mr Kapaiwai stopped to investigate and was informed that Ratu Ritova had developed difficulties while diving off the coast.

He had sunk to the seabed and was dragged ashore by an 11-year-old boy.

It seems the company Mr Kapaiwai works for, Fulton Hogan Hiways, provides compulsory first aid training for employees. Cutting a long story short, his life-saving skills kicked in then.

He checked the man’s mouth and found that his tongue had curled into his throat and was blocking his air passage.

That’s when he “cleared his air-passage and immediately began applying cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)”.

With the help of the villagers and prolonged CPR, Ratu Ritova was revived. To complete this life-saving action, Mr Kapaiwai rushed him to the Sigatoka Hospital because he still had trouble breathing.

That’s when Doctor Sapna Singh, the medic who treated Ratu Ritova at the hospital, commended Mr Kapaiwai for his quick action and Fulton Hogan Hiways for providing the first aid training that saved the Malevu villager’s life.

We spoke to Fulton Hogan Hiways Safety, Quality, Training and Environmental manager John Tinsley who said safety training was compulsory for the company’s 465 employees. Now that was a story that certainly deserves attention. In fact it must get appropriate attention.

The fact that a group of villagers stood around the seemingly lifeless body of Ratu Ritova Baleilevuka when Mr Kapaiwai got there is a concern.

It raises the issue of first aid and whether people truly appreciate its value.

It raises the issue of life and death, and how life-changing moments are born.

It should show us the importance of understanding and knowing first aid. Such moments are critically important for they send a message that is loud and clear — we must value first aid.

We must make it our business to learn it, and be prepared to critically analyse similar situations.

Acknowledgement certainly is due for Mr Kapaiwai and his company for the foresight.

Mr Kapaiwai has taught us a big lesson.

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