Safety Training in the Dominican Republic

If Tracey Haines was speaking to a group in the United States about motorbike safety, her advice would be pretty straightforward: Wear a helmet every time you ride.

But in the Dominican Republic, where Haines recently spent five days teaching accident prevention workshops as part of the Global Health Allies Program, helmets can be hard to come by. Instead of advising people to avoid riding motorbikes, which are a main mode of transportation for many families, Haines suggested an alternative: See if you can borrow a neighbor’s helmet. And, if possible, leave children at home with a trusted friend or family member rather than bringing them along for the ride.

It’s just one example of how Haines, a principal trainer with CHOP’s Information Services Department, shaped her safety advice to reflect the needs — and real-life realities — of people living in the Dominican Republic. “Some of the solutions that would work for us here in the United States aren’t solutions there,” she says.

Haines was one of seven Global Health Allies who traveled to the Dominican Republic in mid-November 2013 to train a group of Dominican health promoters in topics like child development, parenting and accident prevention. In the afternoons, the Allies and the health promoters conducted health fairs in four different barrios, where they provided health screenings for more than 400 mothers and children. It was, says Haines, “a true partnership:” The CHOP team collaborated with the health promoters to meet the community’s specific needs.

The preparation for the trip began long before the team arrived in the Dominican Republic. In May 2013, Maura Murphy, M.P.H., Global Health program manager, and Barbara Picard, R.N., C.R.N.P., met with the health promoters to find out what they wanted to learn — a step that is crucial to the success of any training program, says Haines: “It’s about knowing your audience, and making sure that the training is appropriate for them.”

By all accounts, the trainings were a success. Feedback from the health promoters was overwhelmingly positive, and the Allies, too, found the experience incredibly meaningful. Haines, for one, says the trip made her realize that the principles of good training are universal.

“Sometimes you need to be reminded of things you already know,” she says. “The trip gave me a fresh outlook on my work here at CHOP. It re-energized me.”

Published on in Global Health Update