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Nepal: Police training geared to emergencies

26-11-2013 Feature

Police are often at the forefront of dealing with emergencies, whether natural disasters or situations of violence. The ICRC and the Nepal Red Cross Society are helping Nepal’s police officers acquire skills in first aid and the management of human remains.

The first ever instructor's course on Emergency First Aid and Dead Body Management took place in July this year, focusing both on teaching techniques and practical aspects. By the end of the 15-day course, 25 police officers had become certified trainers, equipped with vital knowledge and ready to practice their skills.

Crucially, the trainers will now be able teach other police personnel, once Emergency First Aid and Dead Body Management are integrated into the annual training curriculum of the Nepal Police. Six similar training courses are planned for 2014. The Nepal Police will take the lead in organizing the courses, while the ICRC and Nepali Red Cross will provide technical support.

Saving lives in emergencies

Nepal is still grappling with the consequences of a decade-long armed conflict. Frequent demonstrations, protests and riots sometimes lead to violence, and while the role of the police is to prevent matters from getting out of control, in emergency situations it is the police who are often the first ones to help injured people.

“This is the very first time I have learnt about essential life-saving techniques,” says Police Inspector Rupa Labung, the sole female participant on the course. “These skills are very important for us, especially when we are deployed to control crowds or face riots where there is every chance that some people, including us, could be injured.”

Handling human remains in the aftermath of emergencies

Nepal is one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world, especially where earthquakes and landslides are concerned, so the national police service has a great deal of responsibility as one of the frontline organizations in disaster response.

Management of human remains is a key element of disaster response, together with the rescue and care of survivors and the provision of essential services.

“The way that mortal remains are handled can have a profound impact and long-lasting effect on the mental health of survivors and communities,” says Morris Tidball-Binz, a forensic adviser at the ICRC in Geneva.
During the instructor’s course, the police officers were taught the techniques of appropriate management of dead bodies, from search and identification to the return of the deceased to families. It is essential that the disposal of a body is carried out in a dignified way that respects the religious and cultural practices of the community.

Course participant Police Inspector Ravi Rawal was keen to renew his knowledge of first aid and learn about dead body management, which was an entirely new subject for him. He said: “Managing mortal remains is a highly sensitive issue that can create a lot of stress if done inappropriately. Grieving families will not accept the remains of their loved ones being mishandled.”.


Photos

Dead body management training. 

Banepa, Nepal.
Dead body management training.
© ICRC / B. Kafle

First aid training. 

Banepa, Nepal
First aid training.
© ICRC / B. Kafle