by Lauren Gilchrist -

The first time Susan Edwards traveled to Ambergris Caye in Belize, there wasn't a single defibrillator on the island, no first aid-trained personnel and only ambulance available was a golf cart.

"You are not going to survive on that island if you have a heart attack," says Ms Edwards.

"They need basic training."

Three years later, the island, off the coast of Belize in Central America, now has two defibrillators and Bandage International has trained some 300 people in first-aid.

In the last three years, Ms Edwards, a Peterborough resident, has visited Belize four times with Bandage International. She is trained as an ambulance attendant and a registered nurse assistant.

Bandage International is a Nova Scotia-based charity made up of emergency care professionals including paramedics, nurses and doctors. The group is comprised of seven Nova Scotians and one resident from Ontario in Ms Edwards. All members have experience in emergency care and education. Their goal is to train anyone they can, including health care workers, hotel managers and tour guides, in basic first-aid.

"There is no pre-hospital care; they are at the level where we were in the 1960s," explains Ms Edwards.

The last trip she took with Bandage International was in February. The group held courses, gave lectures and provided hands-on instruction in Belize City, Belmopan, Dangriga and San Pedro. They also donated medical supplies to various groups and clinics.

"They are just super people; they would give you the shirt off their back even though they didn't have one to put on afterwards," she says.

Ms Edwards will head to Belize again this November. While there, the group will meet with the country's minister of health to propose a project that would see Bandage International develop and set up an emergency response service on the Island of Ambergris Caye.

Since Bandage International is not affiliated with any larger group, they are currently raising the funds they need to finance their work. For more information or to donate, call 749-6581.