Last month saw the biennial WSPA Disaster Management Training Event take place in Naivasha, Kenya.
Below, Kate Biddlecombe, Disaster Operations Officer for WSPA International, discusses the event’s success and why high quality training like this matters to animals.
Jambo from Kenya!
After some long tiring flights and finally landing into Nairobi, the WSPA disaster response team were taken to Naivasha to begin the biennial disaster management training event. The event’s aim was to ensure all team members gained high quality understanding of up to date health, safety and security knowledge, for implementation across all operational activities.
Upon arrival into Naivasha, we stayed at the Kenya Wildlife Service Training Institute, which is where all wildlife rangers across Kenya are trained. It’s funny to feel like you’re back at university, being surrounded by smart young men and women in khaki ranger uniforms. These are the people who make sure the animals and the park are looked after, so it’s pretty inspiring. And it really is an amazing place – we stayed alongside the students, and woke regularly to the sounds of wart hog and zebra outside. It’s something I would never get tired of.
The entire training week was truly fantastic. Simply getting the disaster management team from offices across the world to meet in one location, getting to know them and sharing their knowledge, experience and passion for the work was a real highlight.
Our technical trainers focused the sessions on ‘collapsed structure’ and 'hazardous materials awareness’ – often the environments our teams find themselves in when responding to disasters. These training sessions culminated with a role playing scenario on the final day. We were assigned into three groups, with each team being placed in a large scale disaster situation. The aim of this exercise was to see how the teams would behave when in a real scenario, and how they would implement what was learnt over the past few days into their work. The scenario was brilliant, and really showed off the skill, knowledge and professionalism of the Disaster Management response teams in these environments.
It's amazing to witness first-hand the passion our teams have for their work. Not only will the training enhance health and safety skills when working in difficult environments, but also in the long term, it’s important to remember that this training will help and benefit countless more animals in disasters, and the communities who rely on them.
Follow Kate on Twitter: @kbiddlecombe1