A Kenyan woman from the village of Raiyahi: I survived thanks to firefighters trained by PCPM
The accident happened when a 24-year-old girl was fetching water from an open, unsecured well. The weight of the bucket filled with water overpowered her and dragged her to the bottom of the 30-meter-high well shaft. The accident was noticed by a passing child who informed the adults.
“We received the notification of the accident on the emergency phone, as one of the villagers called. We got there after about 20 minutes – a very quick response time for our conditions. A total of 6 firefighters took part in the action, who used equipment and rope technique. Specialists from Poland taught us how to use this equipment,” says Peter Njega from the fire brigade in Ruiru.
The Polish Center for International Aid (PCPM) helps several dozen Kenyan fire stations, e.g. through staff training and the supply of firefighting equipment and personal equipment. One of the firehouses supported by PCPM is the fire station in Ruiru, a town located in Kiambu County in central Kenya.
One of the main effects of PCPM’s activity in Kenya is the creation of Fire and Rescue Training Center in Kiambu. Here Polish specialists teach firefighters and rescuers from Kenya, among others, using rope techniques, rescuing victims of car accidents and using specialized rescue equipment. It is estimated that at the Kiambu center the PCPM has already trained 60% of all Kenyan firefighters.
“Without the rope technique, we wouldn’t have been able to save this girl. 30 meters is too deep. Sad to say, but we would be helpless,” admits Njega.
“I was conscious the whole time I was in the well, I heard from above that help was coming. But I didn’t believe anyone would be able to help me, it was so deep. I would like to thank our firefighters and Poles who taught them how to save lives,” adds Hannah Wangan Naju, a victim of the accident.
A RESIDENT OF RUIRU WAS SAVED FROM THE RUBBER
Firefighters from the Ruiru unit are also the first rescue team in Kiambu County to respond to building collapses. Such events occur relatively often in Kenya due to the very low quality of building materials, non-compliance with building construction rules and low qualifications of people responsible for construction.
One of the people saved thanks to the equipment and skills of firefighters from the unit in Ruiru is 93-year-old Fresiah Wanjiru Karomo.
“At 3 am we received information that a multi-story building collapsed on one of the streets on the outskirts of the city. Fortunately, the building was only under construction and was not inhabited, but its rubble fell on several houses at its foot. In one of them there was an elderly woman who fortunately managed to be saved,” describes Peter Njega, a local fireman.
He adds that in addition to pulling the woman out from under the rubble, firefighters were also the first to provide her with medical assistance.
“We have been supporting Kenyan firefighters since 2014. We train them not only in the skills of dealing with fire or car accidents, but also in providing medical assistance. We adjust our assistance to the real needs of each fire station, thanks to which we operate very effectively and on a large scale,” says Magda Jarocka, PCPM project coordinator in Kenya.
The Polish Center for International Aid Foundation has been supporting the Kenyan fire brigades since 2014. During this time, the number of fire brigades throughout the country has increased from 26 to 71, and the number of firefighters from 450 to over 1,500. The annual PCPM budget for activities in Kenya is approx. PLN 1.5 million (USD 0.4 million). In total, since 2014, PCPM has implemented projects worth approximately PLN 14 million (USD 3.4 million) in Kenya. The funds come from the “Polish Aid” (“Polska Pomoc”) program coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland.