SmartStart empowers newcomers to Canada to respond to emergencies

Topics: Migrant and Refugee Services
September 26, 2012

SmartStart empowers newcomers to Canada to respond to emergencies

Many newcomers to Canada face challenges when they arrive in the country, including the risk of an uncertain future and language barriers that may make it difficult to access information on public programs and emergency services in the event of a major incident.

However, by offering programs like SmartStart: Community Access to First Aid, the Canadian Red Cross - the country's leading non-profit organization - has been able to provide migrants and refugees services during this period and empower newcomers with the essential tools needed to react during an emergency.

Available in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Brandon, Manitoba, SmartStart can be taught in 14 distinct languages, including Afrikaans, Amharic, Arabic, Cantonese, Dutch, Farsi, French, German, Hindi, Korean, Mandarin, Punjabi, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Tamil, Taiwanese and Vietnamese. As a result, the program has the ability to reach out to hundreds of families, enabling them to learn valuable safety skills.

During emergencies and disasters, migrants and refugees may have a difficult time communicating with emergency staff due to language barriers. However, by teaching families that they can reach out during an emergency by calling 911, as well as by showing them what to do before medical staff arrive on-scene, SmartStart helps migrants and refugees build greater resiliency and overcome obstacles.

In addition, migrants and refugees are taught about basic life support, how to detect the signs of a heart attack or stroke and how to respond to choking, bleeding or other injuries, like broken bones.

Education training through SmartStart doesn't just impart lessons on emergency preparedness - the program really can save lives! If you're eager to help migrants and refugees gain vital emergency response skills, there are a number of ways that the Canadian Red Cross allows you to take action.

If you run a group within your community that sponsors area events, teaches an ESL course or serve in an educational outreach capacity, you should consider organizing a first aid class. 

In addition, these convenient and flexible workshops, which span from two to two-and-a-half hours, can be held wherever you conduct business! To learn more about how you can bring one of these valuable courses to your area, you can contact Kenny Leung, SmartStart: Multi-Lingual Injury Prevention Program Coordinator, at kenny.leung@redcross.ca or at 604.709.6650.

If you're committed to helping everyone gain first aid skills, or if you're fluent in several languages and are interested in teaching others, you can get involved by volunteering. The Red Cross also relies on generous donations to help fund the Smart Start program. To learn more about how you can show your support for the Canadian Red Cross, donate online or visit your local Red Cross office today!

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