Thursday, 2 October 2014

Emergency Medical Services in Turkey

When I was in Calgary two months ago, I had an opportunity to meet with a unique young man named Neil Patel. Neil is the one who introduced me to Couchsurfing and also the one who inspired me to leave my formal education just a year ago - while he did something of the same. But while I was sipping on coconut water in my beach resort for 8 months (you didn't actually believe my stories did you?)

man on beach
That's me on the left

Neil was hitchhiking through the Middle East. And as you can imagine, he has some pretty wild stories - but none of them interested me more than his experience inside a UN-run Syrian refuge camp. A self-educator and health advocate on all fronts, Neil decided that he must see what this looks like from the inside of a camp! Typically off limits to tourists (obviously), Neil, with nothing more than a little determination, the help of a Jordanian student - and surely no lack of ingenuity - wrote a letter in arabic convincing the UN to grant him access to one of their camps for a day. And a couple of weeks later, Neil made some friends among the Syrian refugees and exposed himself to a perspective of life unknown to almost all of us.

This is the only one that Neil took. He is the kind of guy who really gives it to you in person

Now, in my mind, I have accomplished the goals that I set for myself during my last trip in the grandest of fashions - which is actually why I was in Calgary in the first place, and happy to say that I will be returning to University this January - but seldom, I think, do I consider how boundless we can really be in accomplishing our goals. Neil, a Voyageur Sans Frontiers as such, quite obviously sees no boundaries between himself and the things that he wishes to experience. I think that we can all be inspired by Niel's attitude and boundless ambition - at least I can say that I certainly am!

When I rode in an ambulance for the first time in Canada, I got a taste of a career that seemed to me both real and satisfying. And based on this experience and my newfound inspiration, I set for myself a simple goal: To experiencing emergency medicine while travelling throughout the Middle East. It took me exactly 12 days to accomplish.

After arranging an ambulance rıde-along for December in London. I spent the first couple days in Turkey walkıng into Acil (pronounced aa-jıl) departments lookıng for english speakers - like this one here at Güven Hastanesi in Turkey's Capital, Ankara
Arriving in Ankara a couple of days ago without yet any real experience - I was determined to make this the place. I set out the first morning for some hospitals that I had marked on my map the previous evening and after about ten hours of walking through the city without much luck, I reached my day's final location. Not a hospital this time, but a government building belonging to the Health Directorate of Ankara - that is the Provincial branch of Turkey's Ministry of Health.

After walking through the glass doors and metal detector, I received my guest pass from security and was led up some stairs for the first of what was to be many times to come. And it was then that I got my first excited glimpse of Ankara's Command and Control Center.

In Turkey, calling 115 will get you police, 110 will get you fire, and 112 will get you someone in this room. It's much bigger than what I was able to capture here

An hour later I sat in the executive assistant translators office waiting for my meeting with the assistant director (long story). Anyway, Dr. Mehmet Akif eventually walked in and sat adjacent to me round a small coffee table. And after explaining who I was, why I was there, and showing him my documents - he stared for a bit at the Star of Life symbol on my t-shit, then told me to return at 1000 the next morning.

I arrived sharply at 0957 and was greeted by the translator I talked with on the previous day. In her hands, she had a signed order for my driver - the assistant director had apparently planned out the entire day for me! I was introduced shortly to my new translator and paramedic, and thus begun my adventure.

The Arabic-English-Turkish translator on the left carries with him a 24h phone - as he has sole responsibility for the whole city's arabic calls! He and the paramedic on the very right were the ones who led my tour. The motorcycle paramedic appears again later in this post post ;)

The first place that we visited was the servicing and re-stocking centre. It was here that I got my first look inside a couple of the city's different types of ambulances, and started to realise how much more well equipped we are here in Canada. I also got a quick look inside an ambulance when I was in London and saw that it too fell short. I must say guys - we live in a damn good country.

With a 180 degree screen in front and a rumble bottom - I'd say this simulator could be pretty fun.

Next on our list was an ambulance station. After a short drive to a hospital, we walked into a cosy collection of house-like rooms and I was offered my umpteenth glass of Turkish tea (Drinking tea is one of this countries strongest traditions. It's served with every meal, every meeting, and every time someone says a word starting with the letter a - I eventually got headaches). Here, four EMTs were just a couple hours into their 24 hour shift. Something we don't, by the way, usually do in Canada. Turkish EMS actually parts a numbers of ways from us around this point - you're going to have to ask me for my report if you really care to know how.

These are two of the lovely girls from the station - we got lots of pictures together... just a side note

Then it was off to the airport. It was here that I had some more problems with security. See, the ambulance service in Turkey is government run which means that many of the areas that I was able to visit are off limits to civilians, especially foreigners. As the translater actually told me while someone took my picture for the director (on the following day), "we are worried about you because you are young and this is a private building." Apparently my student story (true) got me into a very unique position! My translator also mentioned to me later that they were asking him about my behavior and my interest in what we were seeing. They seriously considered me to be a spy! ... Back to the airport. It was agreed that I could take pictures but just not of logos - so we'll pretend the one in the first picture bellow isn't there.

This is the plane with no logo on the sıde. remember?

And lastly, we went to an educational facility, the call centre, and some other place - but this is getting long

I was invited back the following day where I met with the actual Director and all of the Assistant Directors where we discussed, over tea (if you can believe it), the differences between our two Countries EMS systems. And thus completed one of my most enjoyable and enriching travel experiences that I have had thus far.

Both countries that I have visited in the past weeks (UK, and Turkey) use motorcycle ambulances (See video at bottom) - A service currently not provided in Canada

Now, although that story is kind of interesting and Neil's is even better - this is besides the point of what I really wish to share: I firmly believe that all doors, no matter how closed they may seem, are openable - that rules, guidlines, norms, and even laws are changeable (and certainly they do change!). You can very easily be an Étudiant Sans Fronteirs within any setting - you have within your own hands the power to create for yourself any opportunity that you please. With nothing more than a posıtive attitude and a little determination - you can experience anything. You just have to go out there and, well, do it!

You can't hear well, but when ever we got close to a car he would tell them to move out of the way usıng the PR system connected to a mic in his helmet.

Have a nice day,

Rylan :)

Monday, 7 April 2014

New Hope Cambodia

Link to New Hope Cambodia
Link to My Fundraising Page

 Hey guys,

     So as some of you already know, I have spent the last couple weeks volunteering at an NGO called New Hope Cambodia. I have been so impressed by the organization that I decided to start a fundraiser due to terminate on my last day, May 9th. I have set an ambitious goal of raising  5 000USD for the Outreach department – 5 000USD that will have an enormously positive impact on the community ! And because I’ve already been volunteering in Outreach for a couple weeks, I’ve also been able to put together (information below) an honest, ‘inside look’ as to what it is we do, EXACTLY what your money will be used for, and why it’s needed now.

Morning Assembly at the School

 New Hope Cambodia:

     In 2007, situated within one of the poorest ‘slum’ areas of this war-torn country, New Hope Cambodia was born inside a makeshift, grass hut school purchased by a local Khmer, Mr. Sot Kemsour. Just seven years later, NHC now consists of a full size school, health clinic, outreach department, women’s shelter, family shelter home, training restaurant, and much more (see NHC website). Educating over 1000 children daily, and employing over 70 local Khmer staff – many of which are old NHC students – NHC runs on the model of ‘teaching people how to fish, instead of giving fish to people’, in effort “To restore hope, dignity and promise to these once proud and prosperous people.”

Cooking Fire :)

     Outreach department: 

 Although the rest of NHC has its aims on education and career building, the outreach department was established in effort to combine this approach along with addressing the immediate needs of the community. We currently look after 338 sponsored families (this number grows every week), providing them with rice, sauces, garlic, and a few dollars each month. We also coordinate the shelter homes, operate the crisis care club, and provide additional care to the community. This is where you come in. Our supply room is constantly dwindling. Currently we are out of tarps and have only a handful of mosquito nets and blankets – we are being forced to turn away people who need essential items for safe living. And with rainy reason just around the corner, all of these items are going to be at an increased demand – yet we are lacking the funds to a) prepare for this event, and b) meet with even the minimalistic demands of the present! You money will go directly to the outreach department providing support and relief, as needed, for as long as it lasts.

One of the Sponsor Families

I have put together a list below of some of the things I’ve seen distributed over the last couple weeks and the costs associated with doing so:

Large, high quality tarp                                                                   $25
Large, high quality mosquito net                                                      $6.5
Sleeping mat                                                                                  $6
Blanket                                                                                          $3.5
Bicycle                                                                                           $38
50kg of  emergency rice for unsponsored families                            $36
Bus tickets                                                                                      $8
Emergency food money                                                                   $2-5
Wash Basin                                                                                     $2.5
Fan                                                                                                 $32
House repair                                                                                    ?

     I can assure you that every dollar you donate will be used to buy either one or more of the above items, or be used for outreach staff/volunteer essentials (The gas we use for home visits and the refill of our 20L water supply, ~0.60USD/per working day, are the only two I can think of).

On my first 'rice drop day' we distributed over 14 000kg of rice!
This is the day we deliver the rice to all of our sponsored families. To explain - in the video: I walk out the clinic and outreach building, next you can see the training restaurant, all the families waiting for rice, then the large building near the end is our school.

 Your money is making a real difference in the lives of people who live in a (probably) much less fortunate situation than your own. Please share this page (or a link to my fundraising page) to anyone you feel may be interested in making a contribution. Message me for info about the appalling living conditions of rural Cambodia... or just do a quick Google Search

 Thank you so much for your support,

 Have a nice day,


 Other Ways to Support New Hope Cambodia:

Head to NHC’s website to sponsor a family or a child’s education
Find a different branch within NHC that you would rather support
Find a different NHC sponsorship page that has an alternate directive
Come volunteer and experience NHC for yourself! :)

Link to New Hope Cambodia
Link to My Fundraising Page

On another note.... Man do I have some stories for you guys :) soon I'm off to Nepal where I'm sure the books will be rewritten once more. MANY new photos (just added a couple now), amazing videos, and a nice write up coming in the near future (couple months :))! Stay Tuuuuned. And as usual - Miss you all :(

My pictures from around the world

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