© David Snyder/Counterpart International.

By David Snyder

Wrapping up a few days in Vietnam with Counterpart International, which asked me to write and photograph some of the programs they carried out.
Yesterday, I met with several local motorbike taxi drivers, known here as Xe Om. They make their living on Hanoi’s roadways, ferrying passengers on their motorbikes. But Hanoi’s roadways are dangerous – overcrowded and filled increasingly by dangerous drivers who flout existing laws, according to drivers I spoke with. One of Counterpart’s programs in partnership with the Red Cross was educating Xe Om drivers in first aid and road safety, providing them with first aid kits so they could help with any accidents they came upon. It was certainly much needed. One driver I spoke with said he has responded to 100 incidents since he was trained in 2006, and though many were minor, he has helped to immobilize broken bones and transport injured crash victims to hospitals as well.

Today, I stopped in on the Hanoi Emergency 115 Center. It’s a cross between a 911 call center, where people phone in emergencies, and a paramedic unit. Equipped with five ambulances, the center receives as many as 90 calls each day. In 2001, Counterpart supported the group with three ambulances – vehicles they used to open their first satellite center. Over the following years, Counterpart provided other vehicles and most importantly training to help the center’s medical staff provide more effective emergency care. Now, Hanoi 115 has five centers around the city and reaches 30,000 patients each year with emergency services. It’s been an interesting experience, seeing how these projects have gone on. It’s not an opportunity I get too often so I’m glad to have been able to see it.

David Snyder is a professional freelance writer and photographer based in Maryland. www.davidsnyderphotography.com