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Attukal Pongala: Civil defence volunteers get their first assignment

Civil defence volunteer Sidhique A, who is a pump operator with the Kerala Water Authority (KWA), was very excited to be part of the team. 

Published: 28th February 2021 04:28 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th February 2021 04:28 AM   |  A+A-

Devotees wearing masks particpate in the famed Attukal Pongala festival in Thiruvananthapuram

File photo of devotees wearing masks particpate in the famed Attukal Pongala festival in Thiruvananthapuram. (Photo | BP Deepu, EPS)

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As many as 59 civil defence volunteers deployed at Attukal Temple on the occasion of the Pongala ritual for effective crowd management and helping devotees, had a field day on Saturday as it was their first real assignment after the passing-out parade recently.

The Kerala Fire and Rescue Services had recently recruited around 6,500 civil defence volunteers as mooted by the Civil Defence Act 1968.Civil defence volunteer Sidhique A, who is a pump operator with the Kerala Water Authority (KWA), was very excited to be part of the team. 

“We were given extensive training on basic disaster management. I volunteer under the Vithura Fire Station and there are around 50 volunteers under the station. It was an enriching experience. The number of officers at each fire station is very less and civilians should come forward and get trained so that when some major disaster strikes there is a response team available locally to assist the fire department,” said Sidhique.The Civil Defence initiative was launched by the state government in December 2019. Station Officer Shaji K N, who is in charge of the Civil Defence initiative under the Fire Department, said that the training activities were hit following the pandemic outbreak.

“After the launch of the initiative in December 2019 we invited applications from interested people online. We were overwhelmed with the response. Around 30,000 people enrolled online from across the state to be part of the defence team. We recruited 50 volunteers each for 124 fire stations across the state. But then the pandemic happened and we couldn’t complete the training sessions as planned. Recently we completed training for 2,500 volunteers and training for the rest of the team is under way right now,” said Shaji. 

He said the department is planning to mobilise a reserve battalion of the civil defence volunteers. “People may leave the team and we may need more volunteers. Hence a reserve pool would be helpful,” he added.
At Pongala venue, the fire department had deployed four stretcher teams of civil defence volunteers to assist the devotees. Saju P M, another volunteer who was in charge of the defence team at the Attukal temple, said that the initiative would offer the unique opportunity for civilians to be part of a much bigger cause. “Kerala is prone to disasters and being part of the defence team offers me the opportunity to do my bit for society,” said Saju.

Manju T B, a civil defence volunteer under Vizhinjam Fire Station, who is also a teacher by profession, said the training was very enriching. “They taught us how to save a drowning person or how we should respond to similar accidents and other disasters,” she added. People from different walks of lives including drivers, teachers, paramedical staff and nurses have joined the civil defence team.



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