HoNICs: Saving 9

Growing up I loved playing Pokemon. There was something magical about beginning with a weak creature, and then training it and watching it evolve and become strong.  

One of my favourite Pokemon is Magikarp. It’s a tiny fish that can’t do anything but splash around – can’t win any battles, and can’t learn any new moves. But if you train a Magikarp long enough; if you believe in it, it will eventually evolve into one of the strongest Pokemon of all; Gyarados the dragon. 

I have always felt like a Magikarp when it comes to dealing with emergencies. While doing my undergrad in Physics at LUMS, I joined the student-run Emergency Medical Services department. I failed the three-month training course in my first year. And I only barely passed it the second time around; with my former classmates now my teachers! 

I was extremely clumsy. Couldn’t tie a bandage. Would freeze every time I was asked to perform a practical skill. I could feel the eyes of my evaluators judging me to hell. Dismissing me as hopeless. 

Except one! Whenever he would observe me, suddenly I would be able to take that blood pressure reading correctly. I’d not twist the leg I was trying to splint. It was because he believed in me, and he showed it! He would never let me tell myself I can’t do it. 

Because of his belief in me, I went on to successfully deal with over 250 emergencies on campus. I have dealt with broken bones, seizures, heart attacks, drug overdose, and severe bleeding. A suicidal patient I once talked to for 3 hours to prevent him for self-harming, suddenly put his arms around me and collapsed- saying ‘thank you!’, he fell asleep. The look of joy the next day as he hugged his parents, is imprinted upon my heart. 

I’m now a New York trained Emergency Medical Technician, a Fulbright scholar, and have a Masters of Education from Teachers College Columbia University. I’ve launched Saving 9 to turn Magikarps in Gyaradoses that save lives. We were an NGO since 2018, and now with NIC are evolving into a social enterprise. 

We provide experiences through our training programs on First Aid and Mental Health that help teach anyone how to save a life. Whether you’re 5 years old, or 100+ whether you are illiterate, or whether you are differently-abled.  

You can learn how to save lives! 

Usama Javed Mirza – CEO, Saving 9

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