Taking serious note of the stampede occurred during the ill-fated music concert organised by the School of Engineering at the Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) that claimed four lives and injured scores, the Kerala Civil Defence is set to write to all educational institutions in Ernakulam to enlist at least a certain per cent of students and faculty members to be trained as civil defence volunteers.
In fact, a circular issued by the Directorate of Collegiate Education sometime ago had called for the formation of civil defence cadets on campuses by roping in students, faculty members, and non-teaching staff. But it was never acted upon. The Kerala Civil Defence comprising a bunch of trained volunteers to assist the Fire and Rescue Services in the event of emergencies and disasters was formed based on a government order in 2019, a year after the great deluge.
“Having trained civil defence volunteers in schools and colleges will go a long way in tackling emergencies to a great extent without deploying civil defence volunteers from outside. Those with National Cadet Corps [NCC] and National Service Scheme [NSS] on campuses could be trained as civil defence volunteers considering their largely service-oriented outlook,” said Binu Mitran, Ernakulam Divisional Warden, Civil Defence.
In fact, a proposal to raise a civil defence cadet in each school on the lines of the school police cadets by largely enlisting NCC cadets was considered at a point but did not take off. This may now get a new lease of life.
Civil defence also conducts training sessions for residents’ associations and Kudumbashree members. Considering the proliferation of high-rises prone to emergencies requiring evacuation, the presence of trained volunteers has become absolutely critical, said Mr. Mitran.
Ernakulam district has 6,000 registered civil defence volunteers across 18 fire stations. “We have not less than 1,000 active volunteers, though, in the event of an emergency, even more turn up voluntarily,” said Mr. Mitran. Civil defence volunteers are given three levels of training — six days of training at the fire station level, six days of district-level training, and three days of State-level training.