Deeba Shahnaz Akhter
Under the provision of the Punjab Emergency Service Act, 2006 Section 5(g), the Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) have been established at Union Council level and trained in all districts of Punjab in order to assist the Service in safety Promotion & management of emergencies. The CERTs are those volunteers, who rendered their services with the Punjab Emergency Service without any incentive throughout the year.
The vision behind to establishment of CERTs was to establish sustainable, healthy, safe and resilient communities and to contribute Sustainable Development Goals through volunteer participation in the field of green plantation drive, 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. To materialize this concept, the role of Safety Wing, Managers Training Center ESA, Community Safety Wing, all District Emergency Officers (DEOs) and Rescue Safety Officers are worth appreciating. This collective effort resulted to have volunteers’ teams for National Challenge.
Finally Rescue 1122 is starting National Challenge for Volunteers from 26th to 28th November, 2018 at Emergency Services Academy (ESA) to assess, analyze, rate and encourage the best CERTs & Rescue Scout based on imparted emergency response skills at district level. Furthermore, this challenge would definitely enhance the professional emergency response capacity and develop disaster resilient communities in the country. Total 38 volunteer teams comprising of 8-10 members from all over Pakistan is participating in three day challenge where senior officers of Rescue Headquarters & Emergency Services Academy will evaluate Community Action for Disaster Response (CADRE) skills of all participating teams under supervision of Exercise Controller Muhammad Ahsan. The participating teams of districts will be 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.
The emergency service has 14 year history, where it was started by Founder DG Dr Rizwan Naseer with full support of Ch Pervaiz Ehlai CM Punjab of that time and later Ch Muhammad Sarwar, Governor Punjab and Mr Hanzala Malik, Former Scottish Parliamentarian provided support from Glasgow, in order to train Rescue Officers to establish fire service on modern lines. It is also honor for all Rescue employees that all governments owned it due to its nature of services to the humanity. National CERTs Challenge will also be inaugurated by Mr Hanzala Malik, Former Scottish Parliamentarian along with Dr Rizwan Naseer Founder Director General Punjab Emergency Service on 26th November, 2018. Besides that, the delegation from Armed Forces Post Graduate Medical Institute (AFPGMI) Rawalpindi consisting of 33 members headed by Commandant, AFPGMI Rawalpindi will also witness the Day 1 competition of first 12 volunteer teams at ESA.
It is also very important to know that Punjab Emergency Service being government organization has provided a platform to volunteers to work with government and bridged up the gap between community and government organizations for effective disaster preparedness and response. Rescue Scouts under Rescue Mohafiz Program are being attached in all mass gathering events like, Muharram, Eids, Rabbi ul Awal after getting trainings from rescue trainers on internationally certified course Community Action for Disaster Response (CADRE).The CADRE skills competition for CERTs/ Volunteers in National Challenge is a unique activity started from last year, where the best community teams of all districts of Punjab participate in the competition. The commencement of Volunteers Challenge at National Centre of Excellence, Emergency Services Academy boost up the moral of participating teams as this is the same place where professional rescuers get trainings and serve humanity. Since last year, volunteers are being provided opportunity to render services & exhibit their skills at local, district, provincial and now at national level. Last Year this competition was organized in collaboration with VSO, UNV and Humanetek in which Chiniot got first, Layyah got second position and Lahore remained at third position.
It is also need of the hour to establish Volunteers Service Federation like Beijing Volunteer Service Federation (BVF), China to link up volunteers belongs to different organizations and provide an umbrella of Government organization to all volunteers so that power of humanity could be utilized in true letter and spirit for establishment of Safer Pakistan.
The writer is a freelance contributor