Twenty-eight women of different ages and qualifications in Madinah have formed the first women Civil Defense volunteer team to educate women about safety measures.
A local newspaper reported that the team members, who now only educate women about safety, said they aspired to actually participate and back up Civil Defense men in rescue and evacuation operations when accidents — physical breakdowns, explosions or fires — occur at facilities exclusively used by women such as schools and universities.
Manal Salem, head of the Rabee bint Muawath Volunteer Group, said members hold diplomas, bachelor's degrees and even Ph.Ds. “The group started four years ago with 12 volunteer girls who participated in Red Crescent operations. Members have been trained and have the sufficient knowledge of first aid services, which they had provided to pilgrims and visitors to the Prophet Mosque,” she said.
Members also participate in the World Civil Defense Day by explaining safety measures to women and organizing women in participating in the event. “The variety of members’ qualifications and specialties and the fact they speak English has eased tasks for them.” She said members are currently learning sign language to include those with special needs in their programs.
Before they were supervised by the Civil Defense, the team had several courses, but after they approached the department, the latter gave them specialized and intensive courses in security and safety, evacuation and use of fire extinguishers.
Under the department’s supervision, the team has given courses and implemented awareness programs at girls’ schools and women's sections at hospitals. “Our goal is to increase awareness to prevent accidents and educate women about how to deal with them if they occur.”
Salem said the effect of her and her colleagues’ volunteer work on their family life was positive. “It became a motivation for being more active (at home and elsewhere),” she said. She wished to work in the field and have sufficient training to be ready to participate in any emergency including floods and earthquakes.
Col. Mansour Al-Taiyar, director of the planning and training division at the Civil Defense department in Madinah, said the Civil Defense seeks to increase awareness of prevention in citizens and expatriates, and since most accidents that result in deaths and injuries happen at homes, housewives should be educated about and trained on how to act properly when an emergency occurs.
Al-Taiyar said a survey among housewives on safety at home by Masad Al-Otaibi showed there is a tangible negligence when it comes to identifying the sources of danger and dealing with hazardous materials. About 46 percent of respondents did not own any safety means at home, 34 percent did not know what to do in times of accidents and most of them, 71 percent, showed a strong interest to be trained on safety measures by the Civil Defense.