Asia Pacific Alliance – Sri Lanka

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A-PAD Concludes Successful Swift Water Search and Rescue Training in Kithulgala

A-PAD Concludes Successful Swift Water Search and Rescue Training in Kithulgala

Jun 29, 2024

The Asia Pacific Alliance for Disaster Management (A-PAD) Sri Lanka, in partnership with the Disaster Management Centre (DMC), hosted the closing ceremony of the International Swift Water Search and Rescue (SAR) Level 02 Training for 2024. The event, held in Kithulgala from the 25th to the 27th of June, marked the culmination of an intensive and transformative training program aimed at enhancing the skills of participants from the military, civil society, and the private sector in swift water rescue operations.

A-PAD’s annual Swift Water Search and Rescue programs, in collaboration with DMC Sri Lanka, have set a precedent in strengthening Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) in disaster response. This year’s Level-2 training marked a significant advancement, guiding participants through rigorous simulations and handson exercises in the challenging waters of the Kelani River. Covering essential skills like rope techniques, swimming, and boat handling, the training adhered to international best practices, enhancing Sri Lanka’s disaster response capacity. By fostering public-private sector partnerships, the program aimed to fortify disaster response systems and ensure the preparedness and adaptability of the workforce.

On the first day, participants refreshed their Level-1 skills and were introduced to critical safety protocols, focusing on primary swift water navigation techniques. The second day saw advanced rescue techniques such as chain crossing and live bait river rescue, with a highlight being a night training session simulating low visibility conditions. The final day included intensive exercises and culminated in a certificate distribution and award ceremony, where Major General Udaya Herath, Air Vice Marshal Chaminda Wickramaratne, and Mr. Firzan Hashim recognized the participants’ dedication and achievements.

Reflecting on the program’s inception in 2016/17, Mr. Firzan Hashim, Country Director of A-PAD Sri Lanka, recounted how the collaboration with Japan was initiated to bring professionalism into CivilMilitary Coordination (CIMIC) following significant losses, including volunteer deaths. He highlighted the importance of influential leaders in policy-making and the brilliance of a cohesive team in ensuring successful training outcomes. He extended gratitude to the Ministry of Defence, trainers, armed forces, civilians, private and public sectors, staff, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Japan, and the Embassy of Japan for their support in bringing multi-sector public-private partnerships into their work.

The Chief Guest for the event, Director General of the Disaster Management Centre, Major General Udaya Herath, praised A-PAD’s professionalism and efforts in achieving global standards and enhancing response capacity building. He reflected on the challenges faced by the Sri Lankan SAR team during the Nepal mission and expressed optimism about the progress made through such training programs. He concluded by commending A-PAD for their continued efforts.

The Guest of Honour, Air Vice Marshal Chaminda Wickramaratne, commended the participants’ commitment to learning life-saving skills, which can make a difference between life and death. He expressed heartfelt gratitude to the DMC and A-PAD for organizing this training initiative, emphasizing the investment in community safety and well-being. He encouraged participants to carry forward their training with pride and confidence.

A-PAD Sri Lanka extends heartfelt appreciation to the tri-forces, DMC, private sector volunteers, the People of Japan, and the exceptional trainers for their generous support and dedication. Their collaboration and expertise were instrumental in the success of the training, helping to build a prepared workforce capable of rapid response and effective resource management, ensuring the safety and well-being of communities in Sri Lanka and beyond.

Boat capsizing under the supervision of the chief instructor
Mastering river crossing skills
Participants paddle determinately to reach their goal
Commencement of the closing ceremony
Mr. Firzan Hashim, Country Director of A-PAD Sri Lanka, delivering his speech
The Chief Guest, Major General Udaya Herath, addressing the gathering
The Guest of Honour, Air Vice Marshal Chaminda Wickramaratne, sharing his thoughts
Chief Instructor Mr. Huang Chun Yuan, expressing his views on SAR
The trainees receiving their internationally and locally-recognized certification
The trainees hand over tokens of appreciation to the trainers