Emergency Response Training in Indonesia
The following is a report from Tania Duratovic, the Emergency Relief Responder in the Asia Pacific office. Tania is in Indonesia with Dick Green IFAW’s Emergency Response Manager for Disasters, offering training to vets, students, NGOs and government representatives from across Indonesia and the Philippines on how to rescue animals in disaster situations.
I arrived yesterday after a pretty long journey from Sydney, which ended in a two hour bus ride from Surabaya, where my flight had been re-routed due to bad weather, travelling through the local villages which were preparing for the festival of Eid al-Adha, a traditional Muslim holiday.
It’s now 8pm following the conclusion of day one of the emergency relief training here in Malang, Indonesia. The day started with introductions from the delegates, where they're from and what types of animals they work with.
I spoke about the emergency relief work that IFAW carries out globally and in the region, then Dr. Dick Green spoke about the trend in disasters, that Indonesia and the Philippines are natural disaster hotspots coming fourth and fifth in the top ten around the globe. Dick then talked about the initial stages of managing a disaster, what you need to know and how to carry out an assessment.
The highlight of the day was hearing from Dr. Krishnandana, Head of the Sub Directorate of Animal Welfare and Zoonosis from the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture. Like us, Dr. Krishna was re-routed to Surabaya where he then had to travel the two 2 hours by road to get here. Then, after his talk, he went all the way back! So he’d come especially just to attend this training, highlighting just how important the need is to carry out this work in the region.
Dr. Krishna’s department was set up in 2005 and looks after all animals and animal welfare issues including rescuing animals in disasters. It was great to hear that the Indonesian government are very supportive of rescuing animals in disasters and are working towards putting guidelines in place, a perfect time for IFAW to get involved and to have input.
So that’s about it from day one. There are still a few logistical issues I need to work out before I can go to bed so until tomorrow, ciao.
Day 2 of the emergency relief training....
I woke up this morning to a wet, cold day and it continued to rain all day and here’s me thinking Indonesia was supposed to be hot!
Nick Gilman, an ex-colleague of Dick’s, started the day by teaching us the basics of animal behaviour and restraint. He had us in stitches at times with his impersonation of a cat! He discussed the different ways to approach a prey species and a predator species. When he got onto dogs, the dog-catcher from Yudishtira in Bali shared his own technique of baring his teeth so the dog could see – and he showed us how!
Before lunch, Dr Haris from CARE spoke about small animal triage and care (i.e. domestic animals). Dr Haris has been out to several disasters with IFAW so could draw greatly on his experience to everyone's benefit. After lunch, Dr Luki, another vet, spoke about her experiences with livestock in disasters and about the tsunami relief work in Aceh, which is located on the northern tip of Sumatra.
The afternoon was spent learning about the “Incident Command System”, with Dick explaining the procedures in managing disasters from a central point.
It’s been a great day with loads to learn and it’s fantastic that everyone is participating and sharing their experiences. I also wanted to mention our wonderful translator who is facilitating the training for us, Panut. It was apparent as the day went on that on a few occasions he didn't quite translate exactly what was being said. He said as we don’t speak Indonesian, he can happily make wise cracks without us knowing!
I’ve just been out to buy some cat food for all the stray cats here and I even recognise one that I saw here in March who was a kitten at the time. She now is pregnant!!! With so many vets here on the training we should have asked them to bring their equipment for de-sexing.
That’s enough from me now. I’m off to try and catch the mozzies in my room and set them free outside before sleep.
The rain held off for most of this morning which was lucky as we were outside doing flood water rescue exercises. We practiced throwing techniques - which was very funny to watch with ropes and bags flying everywhere - then moved to the boat exercise where we formed teams and pretended to rescue an animal in the water. Dr Rina from Yudishthira was the first rescuer - she donned the helmet and lifejacket and off she went. Dr Luki was next but the rain started again so we moved under cover.
After all the excitement of ropes and boats, Nick taught us about chemical capture of animals - what drugs are used, what jab sticks and guns etc. The vets took great interest in what Nick had to say about what types of muscle relaxant and pain reliever were best and what dosages, carefully noting everything down.
In the afternoon Dick talked about "Lessons Learned" with photos and stories from various disasters including examples from Hurricane Katrina, the China earthquake and Hurricane Ike. Particularly memorable was a video on Hurricane Katrina – people had no idea about the scale of the disaster and the sheer number of animals that came into the shelters. After that everyone had great respect for Dick being the guy out there directing in all these disasters.
It was a very inspiring day which ended with everyone requesting further technical training from IFAW and representatives from the Philippines talking about forming an animal coalition for disasters.
Well, that's enough from me. I’m off to re-design my mosquito ‘tent’ made out of an umbrella, towel and a sarong after discovering a gap in it last night which allowed a few in, driving me nuts, buzzing in my ear.
Day 4 ...
Anyone who thought that this training would be a sit down talkfest was sorely mistaken. We started the day practicing throwing ropes to each other, which sounds pretty easy but was actually quite difficult to get right. It made us realise how vital these skills would be in a real rescue situation as accuracy would save time and ultimately animals lives. After a short break we braved our fear of heights climbing a tower at the centre and abseiling down, not for the faint hearted.
In the afternoon it was back to the classroom for my presentation on wildlife rescue and sheltering which was great timing as the rain started coming down in buckets.
This concluded the training here in Malang. Everyone is pretty exhausted after four incredibly full days of learning and putting into practice new skills but it has been great fun and we all feel we’ve learnt a great deal.
It’s been great to have everyone getting so involved sharing their experiences and really participating in the practical training. We hope that this training has been useful for everyone and given the participants the skills necessary to go on and teach others how to rescue animals in disasters.
For more information on IFAW’s emergency relief work please visit the website www.ifaw.org