Earthquake Safe Communities in Nepal

PEER Stage 4 launches SWR Course

The National Society for Earthquake Technology-Nepal (NSET) in collaboration with Initiative Outdoor, conducted the first regional pilot training of Swift Water Rescue (SWR) Course in Kurintar, Chitwan, Nepal from 1-5 May, 2018. The SWR Course is a new course under the Program for Enhancement of Emergency Response (PEER) Stage 4 (2014-2019), funded by the United States Agency for International Development through Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA).

The SWR Course aims to provide the participants with the knowledge and practical skills necessary to rescue and respond during a swift water mishap. The five-day course had a total of 19 participants from PEER beneficiary- and extension countries in South Asia, namely, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan and India, all of whom were male participants.

SWR course is a pass/fail course, physically demanding, and very important yet equally adventurous training where the participants were taught the fundamentals of swimming in swift water, rope rescue techniques, and basic medical response to hydrology and river dynamics and more. The training not only teaches qualified individuals to become a good emergency responder but also taught the participants to face their fears and eventually overcome those fears. The training stressed more on practical skills/hands-on where the environment may pose some risks, such as where the participants had to work in swift flowing water; but at the same time the observing safety precautions during the course was taught and managed properly and every participant was assured about his safety.

A total of 7 instructors, led by a female course coordinator, and one course monitor, from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and the United States, facilitated delivery of the pilot course. The SWR training methodology utilized the Interactive Lecture Method (ILM) of instruction and Demonstration-Practice (DP) that is objective based, performance oriented, tested, and highly participatory. The experience of the instructors was enriched by the interaction between the participants during the theoretical as well as in practical exercises sessions. Among 19 participants, 18 received Certificate of Completion and 1 received Certificate of Attendance. All the participants were very much gratified towards all the instructors, and rescue personnel who were there for the course for helping the participants complete the training safely and successfully.

NSET has been working with Initiative Outdoor for the development and pilot testing of SWR curriculum under PEER. Initiative Outdoor’s expertise in delivering similar training for specific groups in South Asia, and with the technical assistance of Rescue 3 International, have been very valuable for the design and development of SWR Course for PEER countries. Dignitaries from PEER partner organizations graced the course closing program and certificate distribution on May 5, 2018. Dr. Amod Mani Dixit, PEER Chief of Party, delivered the welcome address. Dr. Dixit shared the history of PEER SWR course development; and has underscored that though the SWR is still a regional course, there will be a need for national and local adaptations, need to develop instructors' development courses such as the instructors’ workshops, and institutionalized in the same standard way as any of the other four PEER courses MFR, CSSR, HOPE and CADRE. This is very important and this is what was ingrained in the formal and informal expressions of the course participants and developers. Dr. Dixit also quoted "NSET believes that the PEER countries will receive it positively - what we see that this course fills up a visible gap. Not that countries and institutions don't have water rescue courses - but most are generic, informal, still water focused, and there is none with a focus on swift water rescue - the cause of significant death in the mountainous parts of our countries. In the last five days, we have seen that this course offers respite to many, and also offers so many nuances, experimentation, etc."

Philip Turnbull, of Rescue 3 International, in his message, appreciated working with Initiative Outdoor and NSET, to spread the mission of first responders worldwide. Dustin Shiau, USAID/OFDA, emphasized the importance of recognizing preparedness, the right skills, resources and people in place in order to mobilize quick response during emergencies or disasters. Chief Guest during the closing ceremony was Respected Mr. Kedar Neupane, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs-Government of Nepal. With the presence of other South Asian countries in the course, Mr. Neupane encouraged the countries represented in the program to share good practices in the region, such as disaster volunteer development system. He thanked USAID/OFDA, NSET and the fruitful partnership of Government with NGOs in development efforts. He also affirmed Government of Nepal’s commitment to strengthen capacity building in emergency preparedness and response. Mr. Surya Narayan Shrestha, Executive Director of NSET, in his vote of thanks, mentioned about the long felt need for SWR training in South Asia, which now is gradually being realized through USAID/OFDA’s support. Further, Mr. Shrestha encouraged everyone to be more proactive and help NSET to enhance the course; and inspired the course instructors and the newly declared graduates of SWR to be at the forefront during emergency response, contribute to building capacities, and strengthen the existing systems.

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