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Fire-fighting training to boost emergency preparedness in schools | 13 February 2020

Fire-fighting training to boost emergency preparedness in schools

The Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development in collaboration with the Rising Lions Club of Seychelles has organised a fire-fighting training session for educators and staff of the ministry, as part of the plans to improve emergency preparedness at all schools across the country.

The two-day training sessions, partly funded by the Rising Lions Club of Seychelles, comprised both theory and practical exercises geared at equipping the participating school staff with the knowledge and know-how to respond in the event of a fire on school premises. It was conducted in collaboration with the Seychelles Fire and Rescue Services Agency (SFRSA).

Director for Health and Safety and Risk Management Section at the ministry, Regina Prosper, a former officer at the Department of Risk and Disaster Management (DRDM), noted that it is part of the ministry’s strategy to have an emergency plan and team across all schools in the country as risks and emergencies can occur at any unforeseen time, and quick action and reaction is often necessary to mitigate the situation.

“The ministry has been working towards developing an emergency plan for all schools since 2017, including private schools, although they have their own plans. So far, a substantial amount of work has been completed and we have an emergency plan programme. Emergency teams have to be established and are currently being established, and, of course, they need to be trained in first aid and fire-fighting, among others,” Ms Prosper explained.

Thus far, seven emergency response teams have been set up comprising representatives of emergency response services. Since the inception of the project, the ministry in 2017 held consultative workshops with teachers, and introduced the safety plan tailored to each respective school, based on the results of risk-assessments carried out at each facility.

“Last year, a total of 60 teachers from both primary and secondary school institutions were trained in first aid. For the fire-fighting training, 32 staff from different schools participated in the training which comprised practical exercises as well, including lighting a fire in a container and extinguishing it using different equipment. It was very well appreciated especially by the female educators and we thought the practical is just as important as theory to boost their confidence in knowing that in the event of an emergency, they can do something in the meantime that they are awaiting emergency response teams,” Ms Prosper said.

“It is important to note that the emphasis is on saving lives and not on being heroes. Other aspects of the training include provisions for evacuating the premises,” Miss Prosper added.

Private schools are not being left out of the plan, although they already have their own plans but the ministry intends to have a set national format, that can even be understood by first responders and other concerned agencies.

“Schools are surrounded by risks and to mitigate such risks depends on how much knowledge they have as to how to respond. Equipment is something that is lacking as the aim is to have fully-equipped fire points and other safety equipment in all schools. We also need to be mindful of the types of materials used as this too could cause a health and safety risk, for instance if glass enclosures are used. Fibre glass enclosures are more appropriate but are costly,” Ms Prosper further added.

Speaking of the collaboration with the Rising Lions Club, Ms Prosper explained that after the on-site risk-assessments were completed, she submitted a proposal to the club, who kindly assisted by covering some costs associated with the training course.

“I am very pleased with how the sessions went and I could tell, the educators themselves were enjoying it, as they were still asking questions by the time we were to finish. The Rising Lions Club of Seychelles have been very supportive and is looking forward to collaborate on future projects,” she said.

Future training sessions in first-aid and fire-fighting are expected to be organised in the near future.

Participants who have successfully completed the first-aid training and fire-fighting training course will later this month receive their certificates.

The accompanying photos show some highlights of the training session.

 

Laura Pillay

Photo sources: Rising Lions Club of Seychelles

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