ERT workshop upskills organization in disaster response
The ERT workshop which was facilitated by the Fiji Red Cross Society (FRCS) is the first of its kind to be conducted since such trainings were only conducted for staff and volunteers of FRCS.
The workshop focused on response work during times of disasters with topics ranging from standards of behaviour for field staff and volunteers to understanding the different stages involved during a Disaster Management Cycle.
Participants were also briefed on Fiji’s National Disaster Management System’s structures to the types of Disaster Assessments used at the national level.
The practical components of the ERT workshop included using VHF Radio walk-a-talkies in times of disasters to conducting a ‘Bucket Test’ which involved the use of bleach to purify dirty water into clean and safe drinking water.
Staff from WWF-Pacific’s Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea was represented along with representatives from the Fiji National Disaster Management Office, Ba Provincial Council, Wildlife Conservation Society and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
WWF-Pacific ICT Regional Coordinator and workshop participant, Alvin Kumar adds the training was a good practical approach on being first respondents to any disaster.
“Emergency Response Training enhanced my understanding about Red Cross, what are the steps required during assessment of any disaster in a systematic way of doing things. It also gave me an understanding of how the Disaster Management Cycle works in a process flow (Disaster Response, Disaster Recovery, Preparedness and Mitigation). Another good aspect was the ‘Mother Test’ on how do we go about with the purification of fresh water using bleach in a proper manner.”
“We should now see how we can utilize this knowledge and relate this to the community based work which is carried out through conservation work,” Kumar said.
For the Fiji Red Cross Society, even though the ERT workshop was slightly different to their usual week long vigorous trainings, the organization managed to achieve its objectives within the three days.
“From FRCS point of view, the training is just part of dozens of training that one has to be equipped with to be able to respond better after a disaster. Emergency Shelter and Emergency WASH have its own 3 days training. ERT is also conducted with 1stAid training; this is a very important skill that every respondent should have.”
“Being a first respondent means that an organisation not only has skilled personals but recognition from government too. This is achieved through legal documents such as Disaster Management Plan and MoUs,” said Fiji Red Cross Society’s Disaster Management Coordinator and ERT Facilitator, Maciu Nokelevu.
Nokelevu adds the training also provided an insight on the scope of work FRCS does as an auxiliary arm to Government during times of disasters.
“It has increased the reach for disaster response work, having WWF-Pacific and other organization participating in the training. It has allowed FRCS to show case who we are and our work especially in disaster management to the other partner organizations and also FRCS now has a whole organization (WWF Pacific) who will be able to support in responding to future disasters in the region,” he said.
The workshop falls under WWF-Pacific’s ‘Building the Resilience of the Pacific through Disaster Preparedness’ project that is funded by the Australian Government through their Australian NGO Programme (ANCP).
The project was born out of WWF-Pacific’s relief assistance to the communities that were affected by Tropical Cyclone Winston in 2016.
WWF-Pacific Disaster Risk Reduction Climate Change Officer, Sanivalati Tubuna said “Tropical Cyclone (TC) Winston revealed the urgent need for the organization to not only support the organization’s project communities prepare for natural resources but to safe guard the long term productivity of protected areas and investment in conservation and community development work.”
“Knowing that we have now trained people who are able to better respond to disaster particularly to our partner communities is a big achievement. This will help in planning, designing and executing our disaster response plan much more effectively,” Tubuna added.
Participant and WWF-Pacific’s Human Resource Officer, Roshni Mala added the ERT workshop was a platform to reflect the work the organization carried out during TC Winston.
“I think we did a great job in providing assistance during TC Winston but we need to be more careful while doing our initial assessment or in this case our Initial Damage Assessment (IDA).”
“Needless to say, now we know what a Disaster Management Cycle is and how to properly carry out assessments after a disaster, analysing the data and writing situational reports. Also the use of the phonetic alphabets during communication and the importance of using precise and clear messages is something I also learned. Even the water purification process using bleach was interesting as well,” Mala said.