A cross-section of the trainees participating in the orientation training at National Security Training Academy (NSTA), Cumuto, Wallerfield. (Image courtesy ODPM)

Some 27 persons are now much better equipped to assist during a national disaster, following a recent orientation session with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management’s (ODPM).

They are among the first group of successful applicants who responded to the ODPM’s national call for more volunteers to work with the organisation.  The group recently underwent a comprehensive orientation session at the National Security Training Academy (NSTA), Cumuto, Wallerfield, on Saturday 06th February 2021.

According to an official statement from the ODPM, this first cohort of applicants for the Volunteer Programme came through a robust screening process, and organisation is encouraging more citizens to consider becoming ODPM Volunteers.

“Through volunteerism, the ODPM continues to build capacity on individual, family and community levels in a bid to strengthen disaster resilience in Trinidad and Tobago,” the ODPM explains. 

It added: “We invite other passionate and committed individuals to enrol in the programme by registering at www.odpm.gov.tt\volunteer.”

Volunteer Director, Mr. Anthony Gonzales (seated right) and Disaster Management campaigner and seasoned volunteer Mr. Earl Hernandez (seated left) along with some of the trainees listen attentively to presentations at the orientation training at National Security Training Academy (NSTA), Cumuto, Wallerfield. (Image courtesy ODPM)

The recent orientation training at NSTA saw the 27 volunteers being treated to lively and enlightening presentations on the critical role of the ODPM in national disaster management; the realities of hazard impacts in various communities; overview of the volunteer programme and its operations; as well as a synopsis of Communications, External Affairs and Administration in volunteerism.

Facilitators included the ODPM’s Regional Coordinator, Mr. Jaishima Gowandan, a Disaster Management specialist and lecturer; the Volunteer Director, Mr. Anthony Gonzales; Deputy Director Mr. Winston Thorne and Disaster Management campaigner and seasoned volunteer Mr. Earl Hernandez.

The ODPM reports that training facilitators shared their wealth of knowledge and experience with the trainees, as well as highlighted the fact that volunteers can provide the country with much needed surge capacity. Trainees also were told that they could build their capacity through training and education such as learning about the topography of T&T or learning a new skill.

Trainees also learnt that through volunteering, they can increase their capacity to communicate and bring comfort to those most vulnerable in communities, through exposure to sign language and foreign languages.

The recent orientation session is the first step in becoming qualified as a full-fledged ODPM volunteer who can help strengthen the disaster resilience capability of their communities, and the country.