At the invitation of UK charity Operation Florian, EASST’s Communications Coordinator Julie Utting visited the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) from 15th -19th May 2012 to observe delivery of their nationwide training programme for the Fire Service.
Operation Florian is a UK Fire Service Humanitarian Charity working to promote the protection of life amongst communities in need by the provision of equipment, including fire engines, and training to improve fire fighting and rescue capabilities. The training is provided by volunteer UK fire fighters who donate their time and expertise to the project.
The older engines used by Fire Service (left) and one of the newly donated engines (right)
EASST was invited to observe their nationwide training programme in FYROM where Operation Florian has been working since 2005. Over the last seven years Operation Florian has supported capacity building of the Fire Services in over twenty municipalities. This assistance has included the donation of fifteen fully equipped fire fighting vehicles as well as training on pump operation, breathing apparatus, first aid, and road crash rescue equipment.
In the UK, the first rescue service is the fire service as they are responsible for safely extracting injured people from vehicles. In many countries, such as FYROM, there is little or no provision for this vital service in terms of equipment, training, and incident response structure. Operation Florian has therefore been training the Fire Service in communities worldwide to be able to respond to road traffic incidents and reduce the number of casualties on the road.
During the observation visit to FYROM, Julie Utting visited fire stations in Sveti Nikole, Delcevo and Veles where equipment and training has been provided. She was able to witness first-hand the difference the project has made, both to communities and to the fire fighters. As a result of Operation Florian’s activities, several of the fire services are increasingly responding to road traffic collisions and have appointed Community Safety Officers to visit schools to talk about fire and road safety – a role the fire service did not previously provide.
Via the provision of its road traffic collision training, Operation Florian is contributing to the UN Decade of Action on Road Safety 2011-20 which seeks to save 5 million lives during its span. Post-crash care is one of the ‘Five Pillars’ of the Decade, along with safer roads, safer vehicles, safer road users and effective road safety management. Operation Florian is addressing an area often overlooked, but absolutely vital to casualty reduction.
EASST hopes to continue its engagement with Operation Florian and is seeking to develop mutual projects to compliment the aims of both organisations.