Hundreds of Czechs train as Red Cross healthcare volunteers

Photo: ČTK/Ondřej Hájek

Over 700 Czechs have already undergone training organised by the Czech Red Cross to become voluntary healthcare assistants. The course was launched in September amid a surge of new coronavirus cases, which left the country’s hospitals and social care facilities facing a serious shortage of medical staff.

The training offered by the Czech Red Cross in Prague, Brno and other Czech cities, is free of charge and only takes a few hours to complete.

While the course graduates cannot perform any of the tasks that need to be provided by qualified medical staff, they can help with basic bedside treatment, relieving at least some of the burden on nurses.

Once they complete the training, they can offer their help to hospitals or social facilities. University student Kateřina Tisová is a recent graduate of the course:

“In the current situation, where you constantly read news about medical staff being overworked, you feel a sort of moral obligation to help as much you can.”

In a few hours, she learned how to communicate with patients, how to help them with basic hygiene, or how to make the hospital bed.

According to Jaroslava Marková, the coordinator of the project, this is something virtually anyone can learn:

Photo: Kristýna Maková

“We teach people basic nursing care and I expect that we will continue to provide this training at least until the end of the year. Even when the coronavirus subsides, we will be happy to train more people.

“Because this training is not only useful in hospitals and social facilities, we actually teach people how to care for their loved ones in case they fall ill.”

Hundreds of graduates of the Czech Red Cross course have already joined hospitals and social facilities around the country to assist the beleaguered medical professionals.

For example, two of them are currently helping at the General University Hospital in Prague, and the hospital will accept more volunteers as soon as they complete their hepatitis B vaccination, says its deputy director, Dita Svobodová.

“We want our nurses to perform mainly specialized work, or work for which they are qualified. All these supportive services can be performed by lower medical staff. So these people will certainly find employment with us.”

Hospitals and social facilities usually approach the Czech Red Cross themselves with a request for volunteers. But the organization is also looking for places where trained volunteers could be useful, says Jaroslava Marková:

"We have a team of detectives who search the Internet and social networks, looking for ads. So we take a proactive approach and we try to offer our people work.”

Despite the rate of new coronavirus infections slowing down in the Czech Republic in recent days, hospitals and social care facilities are still under pressure with thousands of doctors and nurses being infected with Covid-19.

Meanwhile, dozens of people continue to apply for the Czech Red Cross training every day to become voluntary healthcare assistants.