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Senior Medic Mentor Caroline explains how she protects EOD & IEDD experts

Caroline’s skills equip her to train explosive threat mitigation experts in battlefield emergency & combat trauma care.

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Caroline Kimathi is a Kenyan medical professional who has experience working for the World Health Organisation (WHO) and for the United Nations (UN).

Now working with SafeLane, Caroline is a Senior Medic Mentor specialising in training and mentoring to support humanitarian operations in Somalia.

As well as her nursing qualifications, Caroline also has a degree in Health System Management and a master’s degree in Public Health.

This broad knowledge of the concept of health results in Caroline being a very flexible, adaptable individual - ideal qualities when you’re on call for trauma support in an austere environment such as Somalia.

Ahead of the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action 2021, Caroline kindly agreed to be interviewed by Marketing Manager Mary about her role in the mine action sector.

What led you to a career in health care?

I’m compassionate and I have a deep desire to help people.  For me, my career in nursing was less of a choice and more of a calling.  The fact that I could end up saving a life as a result of my work was a major factor for me.

I also love to read and learn, and this passion helped me to decide to pursue my additional qualifications.  My degree and master’s give me a broader concept of health, which means I can react to changing environments.

Can you describe your role a little - what does typical day look like?

My days are certainly unpredictable!  Here in Somalia, I work as a Senior Medic Trainer.  I’m on standby 24 / 7 in case there is any medical emergency within the SafeLane camp and available to respond to any work tasks set out by the project Operations team.

We may have different work requests - I conduct battlefield emergency and combat trauma care training.  This could be for AMISOM troops, African Union Police or Somalia National Army personnel.

I also provide occupational health and safety in our living and working environment.  Currently, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have a mitigation mission in our camp to ensure the risk of infection does not spread through our working and living environments.

Another part of my role is ensuring our supplies are well stocked and that we are adequately equipped for a range of scenarios.

I may need to be on standby if there is incoming or indirect fire into the operational theatre.  We are responsible to maintain a standby medical response for these types of incidents in order to accompany any of our explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) mentors.

How does your role support mine action efforts?

As a mentor / trainer, I’m playing a big role in increasing my mentees medical knowledge.  We are in a very insecure environment where we expect explosive ordnance related incidents.  My job is training people to understand how to handle and respond in an explosive incident, so they are able to protect each other and have the skills to save the life of a colleague if they need to.

In the context of SafeLane, when an improvised explosive device disposal (IEDD) and dispatch team go to conduct their work, they must have a medic accompanying them to provide support in the event of an incident. 

I am proud of the work I’m doing to support mine action.

What motivated you to work in this sector?

This is my first role in mine action.  My motivation to work in this sector is to contribute to the bigger picture of mine action initiatives.  This work helps me grow - both personally and professionally - as a result of being in a new environment. 

The mine action sector is very culturally diverse and has an impact both in a global and local context.  The work we’re doing plays a role in general to enable people to continue to earn their livelihood.

Describe a highlight of your career so far in mine action?

Basically, being here as a woman is my highlight!  I’m in a visible, dangerous, traditional male dominated environment - it’s remarkable.  I hope to inspire other young adults to take up this work, particularly young women.

I have a background working in an international capacity, I came in confident and with faith in my knowledge.  My knowledge and drive to improve myself means I wasn’t concerned about anyone saying I couldn’t succeed in this work because of my gender.  To break these norms, you must keep doing what you’re doing and remain professional. 

The team I found on the ground are very supportive.  I’ve been able to ask questions and continue to learn.  I know I’m a very good instructor with a rich medical background and the group is very supportive, I’ve felt no friction as a result of my gender. 

As an approachable person, I’ve integrated well - we work as a team and they don’t see me as ‘just’ a woman.  I’ve had a very good experience with this team.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your role?

As I’m a trainer, it’s very rewarding to be told by my seniors that I’m a good instructor.  In addition, when I’m able to work with teams for a week or so, the students remembering my name and appreciating their new skills always feels remarkable. 

I believe in imparting knowledge and this gives them control that could save lives - this is very rewarding for me.

How does the work you and the wider project team deliver benefit the local community?

Here in Somalia, this helps people to live their lives more freely and work more safely in a dangerous environment.  

It’s rewarding to see children able to play in areas that were once contaminated with explosive threats or to see people able to resume their livelihoods and roles within communities.  These achievements help increase the stability and seeing this is so remarkable and rewarding.

We create safer ground and it will make me so happy to see people be able to move freely around their country without fear of explosive ordnance, landmines, or IEDs.  I want to see people freed of this fear. 

Caroline is a passionate individual who continues to challenge herself and enhance her skills for the benefit and medical wellbeing of other people.  Her role enables those who are clearing explosive ordnance to feel a little safer in the process - knowing that their teams and their medics are on hand to help them in the event of an accident. 

While we always want to focus on the positives, it must be acknowledged that working in explosive threat mitigation comes with a significant risk.  Caroline’s knowledge and presence helps to protect those who put themselves on the front line to release land back to communities.

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