14/12/2015 – Matale, Sri Lanka: Dennis Chang is from Hong Kong. He’s backpacking in Sri Lanka for his Christmas holidays. One of the key places he wanted to visit was Sigirya in central Sri Lanka. Sigiriya is one of the most valuable historical monuments in the island. Referred by locals as the eighth Wonder of the World this ancient palace and fortress complex build by King Kashapa has significant archaeological importance and attracts thousands of tourists every year. It is probably the most visited tourist destination of Sri Lanka.
The palace is located in the heart of the island between the towns of Dambulla and Habarana on a massive rocky plateau 370 meters above the sea level.
On a Sunday morning Dennis and his friends found themselves visiting this ancient site and admiring the attractions. On his way to climbing this steep rock suddenly makes him to slip and fall. Dennis bruises his back and his hands severely. Bleeding Dennis’s only choice is to travel 16kms to reach the near by Dambulla base hospital. However, for his luck he finds himself in a first aid hut operated by the Red Cross right in the vicinity of Sigiriya.
The first aid post operated by the Matale branch of the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) has been in operation to address similar issues like Dennis. For many years’ tourists who faces such emergency situations did not have a proper medical facility to treat them.
Accordingly, in early 2014, the Central Cultural Fund of Sri Lanka (CCF) which operates this tourist attraction approached SLRCS Matale branch and requested our support.
“In the recent past there have been many incidents where people faced medical emergencies and was not able to get the support they need and had to travel far in order to receive it” says Ruwan Rathnayake the Branch Executive Officer of SLRCS Matale Branch.
“It was evident that we need to provide the first aid support based on this clear need”
The first aid project of Sigiriya Lions Rock was initiated in May 2014 as a joint programme between Central Cultural Fund Sri Lanka & SLRCS Matale Branch.
Six first aid trained volunteers, three camp leaders and a monitoring office is placed at a first aid post erected in the vicinity of Sigiriya carries out services such as treating minor lacerations, loss of conciseness to severe conditions of providing stabilization support from bee stinging to severe falls and injuries. An ambulance is also on standby to transport severe patience to the nearby hospital.
“In 2015 alone we have treated over 8000 people who needed first aid support” says Tissa Abeywickrama, the Director General of SLRCS.
“This is a good partnership as well. The CCF and SLRCS Matale branch is looking at other needs within the vicinity where we can provide more support”
For tourists like Dennis the first aid post has become a very life saving matter. “It’s indeed nice to see a familiar face like the Red Cross in an unknown country and you know that you are safe”
If you would like to be part of the First Aid programme of Sri Lanka Red Cross you can donate to us via our website or through our Facebook Page. Your donation can certainly help us to reach more people and to increase the quality of the humanitarian service we provide.