Written by: Skylar Dittrich, Red Cross Club Member
International Humanitarian Law (IHL) remains an important part of international relations today because it supervises and manages behaviors in combative situations in order to minimize civilian casualties and wartime devastation. The Red Cross plays a large role in mitigating these damages through IHL by providing a variety of services – most prominently, health care in disaster situations. Keeping in mind the importance of the Red Cross in diminishing the destructive effect of wartime actions, the Washington University in St. Louis American Red Cross Club decided to participate in IHL week in order to teach students on campus about health care in danger zones.
To tackle this task, the clubs first formed a six person IHL committee which held two major meetings, each an hour and a half long. The first meeting consisted of brainstorming various activities to teach students about key aspects of IHL, and the second meeting consisted of the specific logistics of these activities. Through this process, the committee decided on three key events – tabling, first aid training, and a documentary showing.
In the first event, club members tabled at two campus locations, informing students about the purpose of the American Red Cross and IHL, handing out IHL t-shirts, and running the Wounded Soldier Simulation. During this simulation, WU students were given 5 notecards depicting possible wounds that occur in danger zones. These students needed to put themselves in the shoes of a humanitarian aid officer transporting wounded soldiers and evaluate the severity of the wounds and decide the order in which to transport the wounded.
In the first aid training event, the club gave students free first aid kids, and EST (a student run EMT organization) taught a basic first aid lesson to students on campus. Through this, students learned many basic skills – such as the Heimlich and how to treat heat stroke, hypothermia, cuts and lacerations, sprains, and even broken bones.
The final event of the week was a documentary showing of “Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors without Borders.” This film not only highlights the struggles of providing healthcare without resources but also the difficulties of working as a doctor working on a small team in the harsh conditions of danger zones. The showing of this film emphasized both the struggles and importance of IHL and healthcare in wartime by looking at the situation through the eyes of medical professionals.
Throughout the course of the week, the American Red Cross club was able to reach a large variety of students. The club handed out 50 total t-shirts advertising IHL and roughly 90 flyers, as well as reaching much of the student population via painting the Underpass (a campus location for announcing events) and flyering in dorms. Furthermore, roughly 30 WU students participated in the Wounded Soldier Simulation (with even more students stopping by that did not participate), and roughly 20 students attended both the Rapid First Aid training and the documentary viewing. Overall, the Red Cross Club is excited with the turnout and looks forward to participating in IHL again next year, hoping to reach even more of the WU population through IHL programming.