Thirteen Kosovo Correctional Service (KCS) officers from different correctional facilities have been certified as instructors for Basic Life Support by the European Resuscitation Council, following a three-day training organized by the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX). Delivered by five instructors of the EULEX Medical Unit who are certified by the European Resuscitation Council (ERC), the Basic Life Support course is equipping the correctional officers with the knowledge and skills to provide basic life support to persons in need, as well as in-house training for other officers in correctional facilities across Kosovo. The increase in self-harming incidents among the inmates, suicide attempts and suicides showed a need to organize such a course.
Ali Gashi, Replacing General Director of KCS, commended the excellent cooperation with the EULEX Correctional Unit, saying that the Basic Life Support Course is of utmost importance for all KSC officers: “We have seen in practice that KCS officers need to have these skills so that they can react in circumstances where basic life support can save the life of an inmate who may attempt suicide. In 2021, we unfortunately had three cases that ended in loss of life, which also caused traumatic experiences for the staff who was present at the time.”
According to Peeter Näks, Acting Chief of EULEX Correctional Unit, the uniqueness of this training lies in its sustainability since the certified officers will pass on these skills to their colleagues: “This project is extremely important because it will enable the KCS officials to prevent the death of inmates who go through cardiac arrest or attempt to harm themselves. In an ideal world, all correctional officers should possess this type of skills to be able to resuscitate somebody – whether an inmate or a colleague.”
Dr. Cristina Angelescu, Chief of EULEX’s Medical Unit stressed the importance of having a self-sustainable training system within the KCS because it is usually the correctional officers who are the first responders in cases where a person suffers a cardiac arrest: “If a lay person acquires Basic Life Support skills, they can increase the survival chance of the victim until the medical support arrives on the scene. We ensured that our newly-certified instructors understand exactly the principles of basic life support and are able to teach the other colleagues by following the same guidelines and protocols of the ERC.”
“Being able to save a life is extremely important, which is also the motto of this training. It is very fulfilling to be professionally prepared to help a person who is in danger of losing their life,” said Shpresa Bllacaku, correctional officer in the Correctional Center for Women in Lipjan/Lipljan, adding: “We will pass on this knowledge and skills to our colleagues so that we never have to face a case where we are not able to save someone’s life.”
The next phase of this project is to also equip the KCS with the adequate training equipment such as mannequins and automatic external defibrillators, which will be donated by EULEX. Since 2016, the EULEX Medical Unit in cooperation with the EULEX Correctional Unit have organized and provided Basic Life Support training for approximately 500 KCS staff members.