Chintniya hi vipdam adavev pratikriyah; N kapokhananm yuktam pradipte vahine grihe implies that solution to a problem should be thought of ahead of time. It wouldn’t be right to dig a well when the house is on fire.This important point was emphasised by Rashtriya Seva Bharti (RSB) when it conducted a two-day workshop on ‘First Responder Training Programme on Disaster Management’ on October 1st and 2nd, 2022. The workshop ideated a vision among the participants to arm themselves with knowledge and reduce the number of lives lost due to lack of disaster preparedness.
Building A Disaster Resilience Society
The event was organised in partnership with Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). More than hundred participants from different provinces were invited to this event where one hundred and twenty-seven attended. The idea behind the conceptualisation of this two-day programme was to sow seeds for developing a trained workforce for disaster management at the primary level- to spread the message of building a disaster resilience society.
The song composed and sung during the workshop echoes similar sentiments that when we as society take the ownership towards building resilience, any difficulty can be overcome. The beautiful lines are:
Sanghatit shakti ke aagey, har sankat tal jayega, Govardhan ungli se thame, sangh krishna ban jayenga. Karyakartas from Rashtriya Sewa Bharatiya, working under the umbrella of Sewa Bharati, are leading the way in becoming like Bhagwan Krishna, where they can handle any disaster just like He did with Govardhan mountain. To develop a skilled workforce for the future, Karyakartas have initiated training for different sections of society about the basics of disaster management. These Karyakartas and other social organisation participants will then provide training to their workers in their districts, thereby building a team from the ground up. As community level responders are the first responders, the commitment for such programmes is more felt.
Mitigating Impact Of A Disaster
The workshop explained to the participants how a disaster should be tackled to mitigate its impact. The objective was to share the knowledge about the fundamentals during an emergency. Providing do’s and don’ts as first responder for all the major disasters to jotting down things to learn and emulate within a 10-10 framework from different disaster experiences of various countries, it helped people to keep their survival kits ready before an emergency.
The session tried to balance out the theoretical knowledge with practical application through real life examples of actual emergency incidents. The participants underwent mock drills such as using a fire extinguisher, performing CPR, and ways of using ropes and knots to evacuate. The nine sessions covered a range of topics by varied disaster management experts from different domains ranging from academia, government, ground practitioners to promote vigilance and act on steps to meet disasters with utmost readiness.
Disaster management expert Rajendra Lokhande guided six action-oriented programmes to solve the problems faced during the time of emergency due to which immediate relief work is possible.
Vani Manoraj, participant of “Sewa International” in the programme, said, “This two-day workshop is important for organisations working in disaster management. We have learnt a lot about disaster management to build structures within our own networks to propagate this army of trained responders. It will be helpful in working at the grassroots level.”
Similarly, Saroj Karji, swayamsevak karyakarta from Odisha Prant highlighted the importance of spreading the awareness and knowledge gained from the training to the ground, “It teaches lessons on how to build structures within networks to create an army of trained responders. This will be helpful in working at the grassroots level so that we can be better equipped to handle future disasters. The course also provides valuable insight on how to manage a team of people, which will come in handy when coordinating relief efforts during a crisis.”
Tackling Maharashtra Drought
Rashtriya Sewa Bharati has been preparing for and responding to disasters for over 50 years. It has a wide network of volunteers with diverse backgrounds, ranging from doctors and nurses to ex-service men, teachers, engineers, and so forth. By having such a strong and reliable network, Rashtriya Sewa Bharati is the first one to respond to any disaster within the country and is able to be of assistance during difficult times. In 1972, for instance, when there was severe Maharashtra drought, Jan Kalyan Samiti was the first organisation to respond to the disaster.
As Mahatma Gandhi said, true strength comes from an indomitable will, not from physical capacity. This is something that Rashtriya Sewa Bharati’s volunteers exemplify as they work in various humanitarian disaster crises, often managing serious sickness (themselves or their families) and even personal loss. These individuals demonstrate an unyielding strength and determination in the face of difficult circumstances. They all live by the motto that “we’re all in this together”. As human beings, we have a responsibility to help those who have been affected by disasters, whether it be natural or man-made. One day it may be us or our loved ones who need someone to reach out and help.
Rashtriya Sewa Bharati has started this initiative to make people aware of disaster management related topics at the village level. They believe that we need to plan together, and that it will be different from the past. They have begun to prepare a ground team for this eventuality.