A MAN from Kemble has potentially saved the lives of hundreds of people by training vital first-aid workers in Ethiopia.

Paul Blench, 57, joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 2008 and worked as a security manager at the British Embassy in Addis Ababa, for three years.

While working there he noticed Ethiopia’s’s poor medical facilities.

“A man was really badly injured on a rugby pitch outside the embassy,” he said. “There is no 999 number or any emergency services in Ethiopia so, as a remote regions medic, I stabilised the casualty at the scene and got him to hospital safely.

“Usually when people are injured in Ethiopia they are bundled into a passing vehicle and sent to hospital. But a casualty who may otherwise have recovered can often suffer worse injury or die during the journey.”

Following the incident, Paul spoke to a doctor who worked for Trauma Care Ethiopia about the lack of emergency services in the country. The doctor asked Paul if he could write and teach a first responder course.

A first responder is a lay person trained to attend emergency calls received by the ambulance service and provide care until the ambulance arrives.

Paul’s course covered all aspects of immediate emergency response and medical care at the scene of an accident as well as delivery to A&E.

This type of course was unheard of in Ethiopia until Paul trained the first students at the main hospital in Addis Ababa.

“Many of the students had never used stethoscopes, spine boards or even worn gloves so for some it was a steep learning curve,” he said.

“I know the course has made a huge difference to embassy staff and the city’s people.”

Paul’s time with the FCO came to an end in July 2013 when he returned to Kemble with his wife, Kay. He has started his own business MARC Security Solutions and provides security and crisis planning, medical and advanced driver training.