Social Emergency Response Volunteers (SERV), formerly known as First Medical Responders (FMR) are a cadre of volunteers at the community level. They are the First responders in case of an emergency such as Earthquakes, landslides, floods and other such natural disasters. During other times, they volunteer and support long-term development of their own communities.
Indian Red Cross Society embarked upon this mega flagship initiative since 2011 with its first pilot project in Uttarkhand. Following the success of this initiative in Uttarkhand, it has been expanded across the country with technical and financial support from both IFRC and ICRC.
The concept of SERV is premises upon the principles of community based disaster risk reduction. It recognizes that 1. Community understands their problems and opportunities than anyone else, 2. Community is more interested to understand their problems than anyone else, 3. Community is the key stakeholder for development of the country, hence it has to participate for their own development, 4. Local communities are capable of initiation and sustaining their own community development.
SERV members who are bases in their own communities are key of this community-based approach. The aim of developing SERV members is to reduce disaster risks and build resilient communities as envisages in Sendai Framework for action. To contribute to this aim, SERV members will 1. Provide immediate relief to the disaster affected communities before additional support from the government and other agencies arrives, 2) reduce vulnerabllilites of communities by training the communities on First Aid, hygiene promotion etc, 3. Conduct vulnerability and capacity assessment of their own communities, 4. Support any other identified social issues that contributes to the development of the communities.
During the previous years, IFRC and ICRC supported expansion of SERV initiative across 16 states. During the year 2017, support for SERV initiative will be provided across 17 states and the support from Hong Kong Red Cross will be specifically provided in Karnataka State, where no other support from either IFRC or the ICRC is provided.
SERV Project has been implemented in the most disaster prone states and districts across the country and is being expanded every year. New states and districts are added based on their risk profile and availability of funds.
There are four main components of SERV Project
1. Master Trainer,
3. Social Emergency Response volunteers,
4. Community outreach activities.
Karnataka state covers in area 191,976 square kilometers (74,122 sq.miles)or 5.83 percent of the total geographical area of India. It is the seventh largest Indian state by area. With 61,130,704 inhabitants at the 2011 census, Karnataka is the eigth largest state by Population, comprising 30 districts.
Karnataka State has been affected by various natural hazards.
The coastal districts namely Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Uttara Kannada with a coastal line of 322 kms and coastal population of 43.64 lakhs are under the direct threat of cylones originating in Arabian Sea and indirect effect of cyclones originating along the Eastern coastline.
The high density of population along the coastline of Karnataka has made the population highly vulnerable to the storm surge and high speed wing accompanied with cyclone. Any severe cyclone along the eastern coastline causes heavy rainfall in the interior Karnataka region resulting in damages to crops, buildings, and infrastructure services such as roads and often the impact would be severe disruption in the socio-economic life in these regions.
Almost all the districts in Karnataka are facing the brunt of moderate to severe floods. Floods are caused due to cloud bursts , cyclones or depressions in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea. The following distrcts are regularly affected by floods: Belgaum, Bijapur, Bagalkote, Raichur, Gulbarga, Shimoga, Chickmgalur, Udupi, Coorg, Bellary, Dakshina Kannada, Dharwad, Davangere, Gadag, Hassan, Uttara Kannada, Koppal, Bidar, Bangalore (R), Bangalore (U), Kolar, Mandya, Mysore and Chamarajanagar.
Karnataka has reported more than 500 earthquake tremors in the last three decades with most of them having low magnitude. It is found that the weak zones around the northen Karnataka bordering Maharashtra could cause heavy damages in future. The Following districts are falling Zone III where earthquakes of moderate intensity could occur: Bidar, Gulbarga,Bijapur, Bagalkot, Belgaum, Dharwad, Uttara Kannada, Shimoga, Udupi, Dakshina Kannada and Kodagu.
Hilly regions of Western Ghats spread in the districts of Kodagu, Chickmagalur, Hassan, Shimoga, Dakshina Kannada, and Uttara Kananda record a very high normal rainfall of 2000mm to 4000mm. landslides are common in these districts. During the rainy periods these hilly regions regularly experience displacement of rocks and soils causing widespread damage of property.
The state is highly vulnerable to drought as compared to its neighboring states. About 152.1 lakhs ha (80%) out of 190.238 lakh ha is affected by drought in Karnataka.
SERV (formerly known as FMR) was initiated in Karnataka State during the year 2018. One Instructors training course was organized in the year 2018, initially project was implemented in 3 District i.e. Ballari, Hassan and Shimoga, in the year 2019 provision for 3 more districts were given, Hence SERV was implemented in Ballari, Bengaluru Urban, Mandya, Mangaluru, Shimoga and Udupi. No further additions were made since then.
One Instructors training followed by volunteers training, community outreach activities such as swatch bharat abhiyan, WASH, First Aid, Mockdrill on Fire and safety etc., were conducted.
SERV volunteers have supported IRCS, KSB during Mangaluru and Madikeri floods and 2019 North Karnataka floods and are actively participating in the Red Cross work.
SERV training curriculum was developed during the year 2012-13 with technical support from IFRC and ICRC. The curriculum was revised during the year 2015 with technical support from IFRC, ICRC and Belgian Red Cross. All future trainings will use the revised training curriculum, in the year 2019 4 more modules were added.
The volunteers are trained in different aspects of disaster preparedness. Training includes demonstration and use of WatSan equipment and First Aid Kits. There are Thirteen modules in the training curriculum:-
1. Introduction to RCRC Movement
2. Emergency First Aid
3. Public Health in Emergencies
4. WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene)
5. PSP (Psychosocial Support)
6. Family News Service
7. Management of dead bodies
8. Crisis Management
9. PMR & VM (Planning, Monitoring, Reporting and Volunteer Management)
10. Climate Change
11. Integrated Risk Management
12. Safer Access
13. Care of persons with Disabilities during disasters
Over 7 lakh+ Volunteers are associated with Indian Red Cross Society, Karnataka State Branch in saving and restoring lives to build resilient communities across India.
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