After three days of action packed hands-on learning, Kriti Khatri is confident she can help her neighbours and loved ones when an earthquake happens.
She has been taking part in a free three-day Community Action for Disaster Response (Cadre) course run by the Nepalese Red Cross Society (NRCS).
The 23-year-old from Bhaktapur in the Kathmandu Valley says: “In a disaster, I can give immediate help. That makes me feel really nice, and thankful for the course”.
From fire to first aid
The sessions, a mix of classroom lessons and practical activities, prepare volunteers to help their community in the hours and days after major earthquakes – which are a huge risk in the Kathmandu Valley.
Trainees learn how to carry out tasks like searching for trapped and injured people, putting out fires, giving first aid and supporting people in distress.
They are also taught what they can do before an earthquake happens – such as planning an escape route and preparing a ‘go bag’ of emergency supplies.
Kriti said while she had learned a little about fire and disasters when she was younger, she had never been given the chance to practice vital skills like using a fire extinguisher.
She says: “I don't just feel safer for myself, but I can keep other people safe - my family and others in my community.”
“I’ll be more prepared”
The disaster response courses, which take place regularly across the Kathmandu Valley, are part of a wider community-based earthquake preparedness programme run by the NRCS with support from the British Red Cross.
While the course is designed to prepare people for a major disaster, the course can save lives at other times too. From her own experience, Kriti knows how valuable the skills she has learned can be.
She says: “My house nearly caught fire last year, and it was a time of extreme water scarcity in my village. We had to carry water from water tanks on roofs.”
“But I have learned how we could have controlled the fire with a minimal amount of water. From today, if a disaster happens I'll be more prepared and use the skills I learned.”