On Saturday 30 September 2023, the Australian Islamic Medical Association (AIMA) made a significant impact on communities across Australia by hosting its national Lifesaver event, offering free CPR training. This event, held in various mosques and Islamic centres spanning multiple states and territories, aimed to equip attendees with essential life-saving skills while coinciding with World Lifesavers Day celebrated in 20 countries worldwide.
A Nationwide Initiative
The AIMA Lifesaver event occurred in diverse settings, from bustling urban centres like Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth to more remote areas including Townsville, Rockhampton, Mackay, Launceston, and many others. The initiative’s wide geographic coverage ensured that both metropolitan and rural communities had access to this valuable training.
Participants at the event had the opportunity to learn critical life-saving techniques, including how to respond when someone is choking, how to perform CPR, and how to use a defibrillator. To make the event even more engaging, dinner was provided, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
Dr Muhammad Afzal Kahloon, a Canberra-based Consultant Urologist and the National President of AIMA, emphasised the significance of the event, stating, “The National AIMA Lifesaver Event marks a critical milestone in our ongoing mission to unite healthcare professionals, inspire our communities, and serve those in need.”
Dr Omer Shareef, a Townsville-based Consultant Neuropsychiatrist, National Vice-President of AIMA, and Lifesaver Campaign Lead, shared his vision, saying, “Our vision for the National AIMA Lifesaver Event is to empower individuals with essential life-saving skills, transcending cultural and language barriers.”
The CPR demonstration, covered by the media, took place at Auburn Masjid in New South Wales, where cameras captured the life-saving techniques in action. SBS, a major news outlet, even aired a segment on their World News program on the evening of September 30, underscoring the importance of bystander CPR education.
In South Australia, adults and older children learned life-saving techniques, while children engaged in activities focusing on road safety, health, and other essential information. Approximately 50 people attended this event, demonstrating the widespread interest in gaining life-saving knowledge.
Similar success was witnessed in Tasmania, where around 50 people attended the state’s first Lifesavers program, highlighting the growing awareness of the importance of CPR skills.
At Auburn Masjid in NSW, Dr Wajdi Hadi, an Anaesthetic Consultant, emphasised the importance of CPR education, stating, “I always tell them, to learn CPR is as important as tying your shoelaces.” Dr Shahab Pathan, a Cardiologist, added, “It’s a very simple thing that we teach, but it is very empowering to be able to help someone’s life.”
Breaking Bystander Hesitancy
AIMA’s Vice-President, Omer Shareef, stressed the importance of eliminating bystander hesitancy. He explained that sessions were held in mosques because they provided a familiar and comfortable environment for people from refugee backgrounds. Additionally, attendees could often find support from others who spoke their language, fostering a sense of safety and community.
Dr Habib Bhurawala, AIMA Vice President, highlighted the significance of mosques and Islamic centres, stating, “Mosques and Islamic centres are the community hubs. They are centres for many activities apart from prayers. It is a meeting point for the community to come together and also learn different skills.”
AIMA’s Lifesaver event is a shining example of a community-driven initiative that empowers individuals with life-saving skills. By offering free CPR training and educating communities across Australia, AIMA has taken significant steps towards creating a safer and more prepared society. In the words of one attendee, “Things can happen anytime, anywhere, and if you have the skills, you might be able to save someone’s life.” This event not only provides essential knowledge but also reinforces the values of compassion, community, and humanity, as reflected in the words of Prophet Muhammad (s): “Whoever saves a life, is as if he saved all of mankind.”
The event was coordinated by Dr Omer Shareef, Neuro-Psychiatrist, AIMA National Vice President and Lifesavers Campaign Lead.