Emergency Readiness Networks – Saving Lives in Summer as Well as Winter

June 1, 2015

We’ve mentioned a number of times that the Emergency Readiness Networks, which have developed under our mentoring, do heroic work during snow storms this year and last. Rest assured, these teams are trained for all kinds of emergencies, and are busy saving lives in summer as well as in winter.

Fires are a huge problem in the Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. People often don’t know whom to call in case of a fire; roads are narrow and steep and difficult for fire trucks to navigate. In recent months 32 volunteers have been added to the Emergency Readiness Networks (ERN) teams, who have been specifically trained in firefighting. They underwent a 3-month training course, given by the Israeli Fire and Rescue Authority. These volunteers have been added to each of the existing 8 ERNs (4 in each network), as a sub-team, specifically dedicated to firefighting and supplementing official fire and rescue services.

Below are three examples where these teams helped save lives.

In March, a gas cylinder exploded in Jebel Mukaber in the south of the city. Unfortunately, the explosion killed the homeowner, but the local ERN team was the first on the scene and evacuated the rest of the members of the household, who were all in shock by what had happened.

Jebel Mukaber fire March 2015

Jebel Mukaber fire March 2015

In April, a fire broke out in a warehouse of lumber and other construction materials. The Wadi Joz (central) ERN team worked together with teams from the neighborhood of Shuafat and the Shuafat refugee camp (two different teams), together with the professional firefighters, for more than 8 hours to contain the blaze. ERN teams helped to evacuate residents from their homes to get away from the thick smoke, and also helped to clear roads in case wounded needed to be evacuated from the scene. (Fortunately this wasn’t needed, but it was important that the work was done.) Extensive use was made of the ERN Facebook page as well as the MiniActive Facebook page, to warn and inform residents.

Fighting fires in cramped spaces

Fighting fires in cramped spaces

A third incident happened just last week, on Wednesday, May 27. A brush fire broke out in the north of the city, in the area of Atarot, but on land that is part of the Palestinian Authority. Two ERN teams, one from Beit Hanina and one from Shuafat, were on hand to help 5 teams of professional firefighters (3 from Jerusalem and 2 from Ramallah) put out the fire.*

Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for its continued support of this project, and the Daimler AG and the Sobell Foundation, which support the project via the Jerusalem Foundation.

*This joint work between Israeli and Palestinian firefighting teams is a rare event. The last time there was cooperation between the two authorities was during the huge Mount Carmel forest fire that raged for four whole days in December 2010, when teams were sent from Jenin to help extinguish the fire.

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