Deeba Shahnaz Akhter-Head, Community Safety and Information Rescue 1122 Punjab
The Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) have been established and trained at Union Council level in all districts of Punjab in order to assist the Service in safety promotion & management of emergencies under the provision of the Punjab Emergency Service Act, 2006. The CERTs are those volunteers, who are registered after due process of registration, trained by the trainers of Emergency Service and render their services with the Punjab Emergency Service without any incentive throughout the year. Rescue Service Headquarters and Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) Pakistan acknowledged the performance of top five Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs)/volunteers of National Rescue Challenge. Top five teams include Layyah, Lahore Sheikhupura, Kasur and Rawalpindi. These teams are being provided fully equipped Disaster Response Kits which include all necessary tools and accessories along with Personal Kits (Personal Protective Equipment) for each team member essentially required for CERTs during the disaster response. These five winning CERTs performed very well last year and also exhibited extra ordinary disaster response skills in National Challenge/ Competition held at Emergency Services Academy.
The main purpose of National Challenge was to assess, analyze, rate and encourage the best CERTs & Rescue Scout based on imparted emergency response skills at district level. Furthermore, this challenge definitely enhance the professional emergency response capacity and develop disaster resilient communities in the country. In Punjab, over 4000 CERTs are trained to assist Service for the mission to establish sustainable, healthy, safe and resilient communities and to contribute Sustainable Development Goals
Community participation to make the earth clean and green,emergency preparedness and response, prevention of emergencies, promoting healthy and safe living, fire and building safety, road traffic accidents prevention, clean water and sanitation salutations, cleaning and recycling campaigns is the need of the hour. DG Rescue Punjab DrRizwanNaseer set the aim of Rescue Service to train one million volunteers to strengthen existing CERTs, to have improved emergency response and first aider at every home as impact of the Community Safety Program. In this regard, field offices of Rescue Service are continuously striving to accomplish yearly target. The efforts of District Chiniot are worth mentioning, as after setting an example of Winning the first CERT Challenge, another initiative of establishment of more than 65 community centers in Chiniotwith community participation was taken to strengthen emergency response at community level. The focused approach, defined target towards the program and annual competition made the volunteers work more visible and significant.
These top five teams were selected from total 38 volunteer teams comprising of 8-10 members from all over Pakistan, who participated in three day challenge where senior officers of Rescue Headquarters & Emergency Services Academy evaluatedCommunity Action for Disaster Response (CADRE) skills of all participating teams under supervision of Exercise Controller Muhammad Ahsan. The participating teams of districts had been given different scenarios, which include Management of Mass Causality Incident (MCI), Light Search and Rescue, Basic Life Support and First Aid, Response to Fire and Water Emergencies etc. Now these kits equipment accessories have also been finalized after due consultations and as per international practices.
It is also very important to know that Punjab Emergency Service being government organization has provided a platform to volunteersto work with government and bridged up the gap between community and government organizations for effective disaster preparedness and response. Rescue Scouts under Community Safety Program are being attached in all mass gathering events like, Muharram, Eids, Rabbi ulAwal after getting trainings from rescue trainers on internationally certified course Community Action for Disaster Response (CADRE). Now the capacity of existing CERTs are being strengthen and they are further assisting the Service to train further community on first aid to have first aider at every home. The commencement of Kits Distribution for CERTs would boost up the moral of top five teams and it would also motivate other teams to perform better in future to achieve such recognition. Rescue Service would continue the effort of volunteers’ capacity building and making them socially responsible citizen to develop Safer Communities in Pakistan.
The efforts of all volunteer organizations needs to be linked up under one umbrella at Government level to utilize the power of humanity and in this regard a Volunteers Service Federation like Beijing Volunteer Service Federation (BVF), China is required to be established.