Peter Koome: The untold story of a man who teaches first aid in matatus

By Stephen Macharia

Peter Koome wakes up every day to save the lives of Kenyans. For seven years, Koome says he has worked at St John Ambulance as a paramedic and given first aid to over 1000 people.

From when his day starts at 5:00 am every working day, Koome’s work schedule is tight and starts immediately after he leaves his house, he told AutoNews Magazine. 

“I teach first aid tips to public service vehicle passengers,” he adds noting many passengers mistake him for a preacher first before he captures their attention with first aid information. 

“Many passengers call me to communicate their gratitude for the information I pass to them. There is a huge gap in first aid. That is what motivates me,” Koome adds. 

His approach has earned him an international award from a German institution. His employer too, on 11 September 2020, applauded Koome as “one of the best paramedics at St John Ambulance” and celebrated him for “serving humanity”. 

But these accolades, Koome says, only incentivize him to work more. “It is good to know people appreciate what I do. However, my ultimate goal is to save lives through empowering others,” Koome adds.

During his years of service, Koome has handled many emergency cases. He decries the high number of lives lost through road crashes in Kenya every year noting many deaths are preventable through proper first aid. Annually, over 3000 people die from road crashes in Kenya. But he thinks good driving habits can avert a majority of these crashes. 

This is why Koome has embarked on a journey less travelled; preaching the gospel of first aid in buses and public places. 

“I chose to spread messages of first aid in buses because I can reach many people. It also serves me right; I save time because I use public transport when going to work. I do not have to create another platform to get people to speak to,” he told AutoNews. 

When he started, many passengers mistook him for a regular preacher. Today, however, his messages are well received. Many passengers are keen to listen to his teachings on first aid. 

“People want to know how to handle emergency cases. It is sad that the level of first aid knowledge is very low in Kenya,” he says. 

Koome adds that lack of first aid knowledge is a cause of death especially for road crash victims. He adds that the quality of first aid given to victims after road crashes hugely determines the overall health and survival of the victim during post-crash.

Koome, with his unwavering services for saving lives, is probably the only paramedic in Kenya who has chosen the path of equipping passengers in matatus with first aid skills.

“I do not ask for money from passengers. This is a service I give for free. I am serving humanity. When I receive calls from people and they tell me they were able to save a life based on the knowledge I imparted to them, I feel satisfied,” Koome told this writer.

Demand for this knowledge, he says, has created a demand for use of digital media to reach more audiences. He now uses Facebook and WhatsApp to spread his message. 

“I have a Facebook account that I use to teach first aid skills. This method helps me reach many people and acts as a repository for the work that I do,” says the paramedic.

Koome has no intention quit teaching first aid. In fact, he wants to scale up the training by investing in modern camera equipment to help him publish first-aid information online. 



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