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FIRE AID member, Women in the Fire Service deliver training to women in Tajikistan

Thu 04, Apr, 2019

In March 2019 a group of UK female fire fighters from FIRE AID’s member organisation Women in the Fire Service (WFS), supported by London Fire Brigade (LFB) travelled to Tajikistan to provide training for female search and rescue teams from across the region.

Our female instructors from London Fire Brigade provided rope rescue and immediate emergency care training to 14 women from remote and rural areas of Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

Over 1,500 people die annually from road incidents in Tajikistan, which is home to one of the world’s highest and treacherous roads, the Pamir Highway. The Pamir Mountains are an area of increasing tourism but extremely remote and therefore difficult for emergency services to access. A team of Staffordshire Emergency Services Humanitarian Aid Association (SESHAA) instructors identified the need for training and equipment in this area to improve the rescue time for road traffic casualties in November of 2017.

Search and rescue teams made up of solely women are active in this area because they often stay in the villages whilst the men are away working and therefore first to respond. As a result women were invited by the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) from rural areas along the Pamir Highway to participate in training and receive donated rope rescue equipment from both Kent and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Services. The training and equipment will allow the search and rescue teams to extract and stabilise a casualty within the ‘golden hour’ of emergency rescue to sustain life and promote recovery before the emergency services reach the scene.

Instructor Emily Butler from LFB commented on her experience: “This international project has been so rewarding proving that women are just as skilled as men within fire and rescue services. The appreciation for both the training and equipment donations has been overwhelming and the knowledge, skills and confidence gained by us all will allow us to be more effective on a day to day basis”

The experience has been a great development opportunity for the instructors from LFB as well. Nikki Upton from LFB said: “The experience came with big challenges such as language barriers and time restraints, however this was arguably the most rewarding work I have done to date and one I will never forget”

Lead instructor, Sheila Macgregor from LFB shared this opinion by commenting: “Training women from a different culture who already had different levels of training was a challenge, but one which was highly rewarding given the appreciation the ladies gave us in return. I would like to encourage other women to join the team and the fire and rescue service as this was a fantastic experience.”

The project was funded by the UK Embassy in Tajikistan and brought together FIRE AID members; The Eastern Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Transport (EASST), WFS and SESHAA.  The project was supported by in-country partners; AKAH and The Young Generation Tajikistan (YGT).

We would like to extend our special thanks to Commissioner Danny Cotton, Tom George, David O’Neill and Richard Abbot of LFB. As well as project managers, Paul Radcliffe, Ron Morley and Alf Wilson of SESHAA and Serghei Diaconu of EASST. A final thanks to HMA Hugh Philpot and Jonathan Layfield of the UK Embassy in Tajikistan for your ongoing support.