Belarus: Emergency preparedness saves lives

Publié: 25 octobre 2013 14:22 CET

In June 2013, the Belarus Red Cross held a four-day disaster management course where 80 volunteers were trained in search-and-rescue techniques in a range of conditions such as in forests or on water. The course also covered relief and the management of emergency shelter camps. Special attention was paid to psychosocial support in emergencies, with an expert from the Bulgarian Red Cross supporting the training.

The summer school course was part of a comprehensive programme, supported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Disaster Relief Emergency Fund, designed to improve preparedness among volunteers so they are able to provide the highest level of care following a disaster.

After the summer school, 24 of the best-performing participants were selected to demonstrate their skills at an international simulation exercise organized by the Lithuanian Red Cross Society. Red Cross volunteers from Latvia and Estonia also took part in the event.

The 24-hour simulation of a plane crash called on the volunteers of the four National Societies to carry out search and rescue, provide first aid, and transport people from the disaster zone to safety through rough terrain. The Red Cross teams worked well together, each illustrating the various skills developed by their National Society’s training programmes. Team leaders had to make decisions based on events as they unfolded.

Representatives of various government services and departments observed the simulation. Fire-fighters, police and ambulance staff unanimously noted Belarusian volunteers for the quick and effective assistance to victims. “If I am unlucky enough to be in a plane accident, I would be lucky if it happened in Belarus,” commented Lithuania’s chief of police.

“I would like to make special mention of the joint work of the volunteers from different countries. Absence of rivalry and a common team spirit allowed more than 30 victims to be assisted just in ten minutes. A vivid example is a an injured person carried in a stretcher by four volunteers, each from a different country, one from Lithuania, one from Latvia, one from Estonia and one from Belarus,” said Viktor Kolbanov, Belarus Red Cross Secretary General.

In mid-September, large-scale drills were also organized in Minsk by the Belarusian Ministry of Emergencies in order to prepare for extreme winter conditions. Belarus Red Cross emergency response teams are included in the state’s system of response to winter conditions. The emergencies and defence ministries, traffic police, local authorities, and corporate partners also took part.

In the large-scale simulation scenario, a serious road accident takes place during a snow storm, causing a 15-kilometre traffic jam. Children returning from school are caught up in the traffic jam in bitterly cold conditions. Simulations such as these have allowed the Belarus Red Cross to demonstrate it’s preparedness for large-scale emergencies both at home and abroad. Emergencies cannot always be prevented, but in Belarus, the Red Cross is certainly prepared.