India

Building First-Responder volunteers in Disasters

A volunteer is defined as an individual who self-willingly undertakes a task. This entails offering one’s time, skill or service of any kind. Caritas India understands volunteering as a powerful and effective medium to reach out to the marginalized sections and reduce misery and suffering. Caritas India believes that it is only when citizens step up ––more sustainable change is ensured.

Normally, a volunteer’s first encounter with disaster management occurs during an actual emergency as a First Responder. He/She is then rigorously engaged in surveys, distributions, search and rescue missions, camp management and other disaster relief projects. Volunteers have played an integral role in disaster relief activities on several critical occasions. Various humanitarian agencies that work in humanitarian aid and disaster risk reduction are moving more toward creating a volunteer-oriented response model. Following the same, Caritas India also plans to create its group of “First Responder volunteers”.

Taking it forward, Caritas India is planning to build a “sustainable volunteer foundation” in 6 disaster-prone locations in the states of Kerala, Bihar and Delhi. In this regard, two-day residential training was organised for the selected 25 volunteers to foster awareness and knowledge as first responders in disaster management. The training substantiates the larger objective of capacitating preparedness and response at all levels (before, during & after a disaster). 25 volunteers from each of these locations were identified based on set criteria. With these trainings, Caritas India aims to form a community of active volunteers, that is well trained to respond effectively during natural calamities and can aid with rebuilding measures of the community in the later stage.

The second day of training covered Contingency plan formation, basic skill settings, resource development etc. These are critical functions aimed at preventing loss of life and livelihood during a disaster. They also delineate a myriad number of roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders in a disaster-hit region. The session also coursed through intricate details such as stress/anger and time management, meant to alleviate the suffering and foster prompt effective response from the community.

The two days residential training programme was concluded with a short valedictory ceremony where certificates and volunteers’ guidelines were distributed among the trainees. Well-known experts in Disaster Management were invited to the valedictory function who shared their constructive thoughts on role of Volunteers role in Disaster management. They then distributed the certificates and guideline manuals among the trainee volunteers.

Sharing his opinion on this Mr. Fareed, Deputy Collector, Thrissur said, “Through these training programmes, Caritas India is trying to assist the government system to strengthen the nation and build the community”.

Appreciating Caritas’s effort for initiating this programme Mrs. Alice Corporation division councillor, Mananthavady said “Caritas India’s efforts to make volunteering more efficient in innovative ways are commendable and the training programme given more space for the volunteers to act in future”