～Children are learning about disaster prevention at Fire Wardens Club.～
Organization: Jamaica Fire Brigade
Name：Ms. Heather Williams
Name of the program: Community-based Disaster Risk Reduction
Implementing Partners: Kobe City Fire Bureau, Kobe International Center for Cooperation and Communication (KIC)
Program period: June 22-August 1, 2015
Ms. Heather Williams participated in "community disaster prevention" training in 2015 and after returning home, she has actively been working for disaster prevention education at primary schools by taking advantage of the result of JICA knowledge co-creation program. We received a report from her.
I (Heather Williams) was a participant in the Community-based Disaster Risk Management course implemented by the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) Kansai in Kobe city, Japan in 2015. My action plan developed in partial fulfilment of that training was approved by the Jamaica Fire Brigade through the office of the Commissioner, as a part of the Brigade’s Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) agenda. This Action Plan would become the “Disaster Risk Reduction Education in Primary Schools Project” and it was officially launched on June 30, 2016.
Major funding for the project was provided by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Jamaica through its Follow-up Cooperation program. Further assistance was sought and received from Jamaica Energy Partners and the Portmore Municipal Corporation. We thought it necessary to seek to have the Ministry of Education’s blessing and with the kind guidance of the Region 6 office, the project was officially endorsed by the Ministry of Education through the office of the Chief Education Officer.
The project was undertaken by the St. Catherine Fire Prevention & Public Relations Department and started with six pilot schools in the parish. In April 2016, twenty teachers from these six schools were trained in Basic First Aid; educated on how to effectively conduct fire and earthquake drills; and introduced to the Incident Management System aided by a practical scenario for their individual school.
The training was conducted by the Fire Prevention and Public Relations Department supported by the EMS department and the Portmore Municipal Corporation’s Disaster Coordinator. Following this workshop, we assisted the schools in developing or revising their existing Disaster Plans. We also observed the workshop participants applying the training and skills they received in fire and earthquake simulations at their respective schools.
In October 2016, approximately two hundred students from twenty primary schools across St. Catherine participated in a two-day Disaster Risk Reduction Exposition held at the Portmore Fire Station under the theme “Disaster Risk Reduction Builds Resilience”. They were exposed to a number of life safety activities such as Fire extinguisher use, rescue and victim transportation methods, bucket brigade fire extinguishing method, the use of ropes and rope tying techniques in disaster situations.
Additionally, through a competition, schools were invited to submit a design of a character for the Fire Prevention Department to use in its education program. The idea was for the Jamaica Fire Brigade to adopt the Kobe Fire Department’s technique used to teach children how to transport injured persons in which they use a character called “Kaeru” (the frog). McCook Primary School won the competition and their winning design evolved into our version - Crox (the friendly crocodile) also incorporated as the club’s insignia.
So what is the Fire Wardens Club?
The Fire Wardens Club is a disaster-based education extra-curricular program in primary schools in Jamaica. Its purpose is “to empower children with the right knowledge, skills and attitudes to be prepared for, respond to, and recover from, disasters which can mean the difference between life and death”. The vision of the club is to develop a culture of Disaster Risk Reduction in homes and communities towards building Jamaica’s resilience to natural disasters.
Club meetings are usually held for one hour once per week at each school. Lessons and activities are presented under the topics of Natural hazards & disasters, Rescue Techniques, Basic First Aid, Volunteerism & Charity work, Fire Brigade Knowledge, Foot drilling
Another unique characteristic of the club is that it is a uniformed club. There is also scope for awards and rewards such as promotions to leadership positions and recognition for outstanding performances in specific subject areas. There are three tiers of the club – Starter Wardens (Grades 1&2); Junior Wardens (Grades 3&4); and Senior Wardens (grades 5 &6). While club members are referred to as Wardens, the teachers with responsibility for the club are known as Superintendents.
Since being established with a soft launch in April 2017, approximately 600 students have been exposed to various Disaster related lessons and activities with a total of thirteen schools currently in the program.
With the assistance of the Education Ministry, the Brigade foresees the Fire Wardens Club extending to other schools across the fourteen parishes to fulfil the organization’s mandate of “saving lives and protecting property” in helping students to “Prepare today…for disasters tomorrow”. (Club’s motto)
Ms. Heather made an action plan utilizing the knowledge of disaster prevention education learned from Mr. Nagata of Plus Arts, Kobe city fire department and implements disaster prevention education at primary schools in Jamaica. JICA participants have learned the knowledge and the idea of "Isa! Kaeru caravan!", Kobe city fire department and many related organizations. After they returned to their country, they did not just use the same materials used in Japan. They modified those materials and made them suitable for the culture and circumstances of their countries. The knowledge of Community-based Disaster Risk Reduction course is spreading to Jamaica and the world. For example, the character of disaster prevention education is frog in Japan, but it was changed into a crocodile in Jamaica, a deer in Indonesia, a bear in Turkey and Mongolia. I hope that disaster prevention education and community-based disaster prevention activities will be promoted and continued in the countries of the ex-participants in the future.
(Program Division 1)