Many Villagers Are Their Own First Responders

CWS Indonesia | February 19, 2017

A first aid practice scenario during a CWS-led information session for residents of Tana Toraja. Photo: CWS

A first aid practice scenario during a CWS-led information session for residents of Tana Toraja. Photo: CWS

In Indonesia, a Village Disaster Preparedness Team is a group of volunteers who facilitates all activities related to disaster prevention, response preparedness (readiness) and any response needed. Lembang Paku village in Tana Toraja province is in a mountainous area about 50 kilometers from the nearest town. Landslides are a common occurrence in this part of Tana Toraja, and remoteness of the village hampers response from government responders when a disaster strikes. So, villagers themselves – friends and neighbors joining together – are inevitably their own ‘first responders’ even though most have little knowledge or skills for this role. So when given the chance to have CWS support to establish a Disaster Preparedness Team, community members responded enthusiastically to broaden their knowledge and the range of skills they would need to be effective. One team member, Tabitha, is a mother of three who works for the village and is active in women’s empowerment and community organizing. Her view that disaster response readiness and management left much to be desired led her to join the Team. In January she and 35 others participated in a CWS-supported First Aid training workshop where they added to their knowledge and skills to protect their community when needed.  Importantly to Tabitha was the fact that, in addition to hearing and reading about theory, she and others had a chance to practice First Aid in scenarios and role-plays. After this first learning opportunity, Tabitha said, “I realize now that we also need to have proper First Aid equipment in Lembang Paku. So I will continue to lobby for more support and assistance from the local government.”

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