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Volunteers Travel to Myanmar to Teach Water Rescue and First Aid Skills

Earlier this summer two long-time American Red Cross safety experts took their skills and experience across the globe in the name of water safety. Red Cross aquatics instructor trainers Mary Franklin and Doug Tilford traveled to Yangon, Myanmar in June to lead an intensive eight-day, water safety training for local volunteers from the Myanmar Red Cross.

The initiative was part of a longstanding disaster preparedness partnership between the American Red Cross and the Myanmar Red Cross societies.

The goal of this training was to prepare a select group of volunteers from the Myanmar Red Cross to provide water safety instruction to their own local communities. The American Red Cross safety experts—Mary from Tennessee and Doug from Indiana—took time out of their busy schedules to travel halfway around the world to arm fellow Red Crossers with lifesaving skills.

Along with experienced instructors, the American Red Cross also provided teaching manuals, training equipment and e-learning materials which will assist with training in the future. The curriculum focused on lifeguarding, water rescues and swimming proficiency as well as First Aid, CPR and AED.

“Water safety is universally important,” said Doug Tilford of his experience teaching in Southeast Asia. “Everyone should have the opportunity to learn these critical skills.”

The importance of such a program is underscored by the drowning, several years ago, of a Myanmar Red Cross volunteer. “This program will help keep volunteers and communities safer next rainy season,” said Tewani.

“Given Myanmar’s vulnerability to severe flooding during cyclone and monsoon season, it is especially vital that disaster response volunteers learn how to stay safe in and around the water,” said Manish Tewani, country representative for American Red Cross in Myanmar.

Annually, the American Red Cross provides nearly 2.3 million people with First Aid and CPR/AED education and more than 2.5 million people with water safety training.

Learn more about American Red Cross programs in Myanmar.

Learn more about American Red Cross aquatics programs.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.