“I have learned to tame fre”
ENPI Info Centre -
Feature no. 58
accidents, water rescue, oods anddrowning accidents, earthquakes andevacuation. In cases of emergency, thestudents will immediately be alerted toserve either as rst reaction units –ahead of the arrival of oﬃcial civil de-fence personnel – or as backup assis-tants.Mohammad Abiyat is a 15-year-old stu-dent at the Bethlehem Secondary BoysSchool. Very impressed by the traininghe has received along with a group of boys from his school, he says he feelswell equipped to handle certain crisissituations. Since the training, he hasgiven cardiopulmonary resuscitation to an old man who fainted in thestreet. And when the smell of cooking-gas spread in a building wherehe happened to be, he immediately asked people to open all windowsand to call for help. "I am proud of myself," said Mohammad, "I feel Ihave saved a few lives." A civil defence drill took place at Mohammad'sschool, without any early warning. The minute sirens went oﬀ, mem-bers of the emergency committee turned oﬀ the power and shut allwater and gas pipes. It was a fascinating scene to see the 584 studentsrushing out of their classrooms and queuing in the main yard in just25 seconds. No injuries. No stampede, and no delays.
“I feel I’m a diﬀerent person now”
In Qalqilya in the northern part of the West Bank, Taghrid Hassan, 17, says she never ex-pected to have the courage to enroll in such a course. “At rst, I felt so scared. But seeingmy friends joining gave me courage and I decided to go ahead. Now, I feel I am fully capa-ble of providing help to people in need,” says Taghrid. She adds that the programme hadan extra impact on her. “I feel I’m a diﬀerent person now, with a new personality, perhapsa tougher one. And I like it.” When asked what she means by tougher, the answer is: “I don’tfeel I’m the little shy and weak girl of the neighbourhood any more.”In addition to training youths, Public Protection units of the Palestinian Authority do theirbest to raise public awareness of the need to maintain minimal compliance with publicsafety rules. The concept of awareness raising is based on informing the public about whatto do when the time comes that a disaster strikes. Leila is 17, she comes from the village of Wadi Fukin on the western outskirts of Bethlehem. She says the rst training day was veryfrightening. "I listened to the trainer as he spoke of ghting re and I got scared. I have are phobia. I thought to quit. But then I said to myself it could be my best chance to dumpthis fear." Now Leila easily uses a re extinguisher. The day a re-ghting course took placeat her school, she took the extinguisher with her tiny hands and dashed towards the burn-ing tyre in seconds. It took her a few seconds more, and the re was oﬀ.
Not enough re extinguishers
This is what the course is (also) about. It helps people to cross the threshold of fear and tostep into a diﬀerent world of communal integration, mostly at a time of crisis when peoplefeel they are in need of each other. In this sense, the course brings Palestinian studentsand their families closer to the Civil Defence culture, which increases their capacity to face
“I’m adiﬀerentperson now,I don’t feel I’mthe little shyand weak girlof theneighborhoodanymore”“I listened to thetrainer as he spokeof ghting re andI got scared. I havea re phobia.I thought to quit.But then I said tomyself it could bemy best chance todump this fear”.
“At rst, I felt soscared. But seeingmy friends joininggave me courageand I decided to goahead. Now, I feel Iam fully capable of providing help topeople in need”
A team of trainers from the CivilProtection Department
Palestinian girlsattending a trainingclass in Bethlehemdistrict