Written by Zulfick Farzan
13 Aug, 2021 | 12:41 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st); National recognition was conferred on a group of internationally certified search and rescue operators at the Disaster Management Center in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Thursday (12th August).
Participants from the search and rescue programs conducted by A-PAD with instructors from the International Rescue Instructors Association received national recognition in Swift Water search and rescue.
The Search and Rescue Team included personnel from the Sri Lanka Army, Sri Lanka Navy, Sri Lanka Air Force, Police, Civil Defence Force, Sri Lanka Life Saving, and the private sector.
The A-PAD International Symposium 2021 on Civil-Military Dialogue organized by the Asia Pacific Alliance for Disaster Management was held in Colombo strictly adhering to COVID-19 guidelines with limited physical participation and virtual global attendance.
The symposium was graced by the Director-General of the Disaster Management Center Major General Sudantha Ranasinghe who said it is a responsibility of all to create a safer Sri Lanka and ensure that all citizens in the country are safe, protected, and looked after well.
Speaking on Sri Lanka’s current situation, the Director-General noted that the ‘human responsibility is entrusted to the military because that is the biggest human resource capacity that belongs to the government of Sri Lanka.
“As long as the people want us, the military, to help them, we are there. It is our responsibility,” he stressed.
The first Secretary of the Embassy of Japan Hoshiai Chiharu was the guest of honor along with Dr. Hemantha Herath, the Deputy Director-General of Public Health Services.
“After this pandemic, we have to change ourselves to suit the new normal,” pointed out Dr. Herath noting that some problems experienced by the Sri Lankan Health Sector are the noncompliance to rules on social distancing and mass gatherings.
“At weddings and other places people take the risk to move closer and end up with clusters, like wedding clusters. People will have to take responsibility themselves and get adapted to the new normal and it should not be confined to the government sector,” he said while stressing the fact that all citizens of the country, irrespective of their power, position, and wealth, must adapt to the new normal.
Ruwan Keragala, a Director at MAS Intimates speaking at the panel discussion believes the present situation is a turning point.
“There are few important benefits which we have realized by focusing on the partnership with the military and the health sector. One is stabilizing the environment by ensuring and minimizing the risk to our team members, to the communities. Then safeguarding the teams and the communities,” he said.
Group Director of the Capital Maharaja Organization Chevaan Daniel said disasters can be seen through together and not divided.
“Today, I have to honor our late Chairman Mr. Rajamahendran, whom we sadly lost around three weeks ago. He foresaw the importance of working with the military and with the government, with the people to support the people,” he said.
“As a nation, we are a civilization and not just a country with 200 to 300 years of history. We have seen through many disasters and we will definitely see this one through as well. But together and not divided,” he added.
Yasangi Randeni, the General Manager of Aitken Spence PLC stressed that proactive dialog is required among all sectors, adding “that is where the Private Public engagement and participation need to happen. So that mitigation happens alongside adaption.”
Sri Lanka’s Award swimming swimmer Julian Bollin highlighted the risks of waterways in the country noting that “Safe swimming is still a concern because we still have people drowning in swimming pools.”
Firzan Hashim, Country Director, A-PAD Sri Lanka reiterated the need to save lives and livelihoods.
“The Military has a massive capacity, and when they are asked to support to others, they go in and get the work done. We also have seen that they require assistance and support,” he noted.
“This is where we felt the private sector has the technology and its reach as well as the knowledge and support. It’s all about saving lives and people’s livelihoods,” he repeatedly stressed.
The Search and Rescue Group that underwent special training is ready to be deployed to any area that experiences massive floods in the country.
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