New base for volunteers

2015-09-22 06:00
The pre-fab building situated on a piece of land behind the Westridge Fire Station in Dagbreek Laan has been launched and the 30 Disaster Risk Manangement volunteers have already moved in. 

Samantha Lee

The pre-fab building situated on a piece of land behind the Westridge Fire Station in Dagbreek Laan has been launched and the 30 Disaster Risk Manangement volunteers have already moved in. PHOTO: Samantha Lee

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A two-year promise has materialised and Mitchell’s Plain relief volunteers now have their own base station.

This was one of two multi-million rand facilities launched on Saturday last week specifically for Disaster Risk Management (DRM) volunteers.

The base – developed by the City of Cape Town – will serve as a central meeting and deployment point for volunteer units who were previously stationed at the facility in Plumstead.

The pre-fab building is fully equiped with a meeting room, store room, kitchen, dispatche room, training facilities, aircon and dignified showers and toilets.

DRM Mitchell’s Plain co-ordinator Jacobus Peterson tells People’s Post he expects this to improve response times significantly.

“The travel time will be reduced and be a relief for us. We have already moved in and look forward to having it fully operational by 1 October,” he says.

The facilities bring the overall number of volunteer bases across the city to 12, with three more set to be opened by the end of December and five other facilities in Strand, Khayelitsha, Macassar, Athlone and Scottsdene currently in the planning phase.

“A centre in Langa was on track to open soon, but as we witnessed a few weeks ago, it was senselessly targeted by protestors who petrol-bombed the building. That has set us back a little bit as we will have to repair the damage first,” said Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, JP Smith in his address at the luanch.

After wining the best response team at the local awards two years ago, Smith says the only way to reward them was to give them a facility of their own.

The City is bound by the Disaster Risk Management Act to establish volunteer units and currently have the largest operational unit in the country, boasts Smith.

Currently, the corps boasts 450 members, some with 15 to 30 years of service to the city.

“Committment like that is truly rare and we need to applaud you for that,” he said.

“I want to thank all of the Disaster Risk Management volunteers for offering their time to a service that is often thankless. Volunteers are essential in any big city, as the police and other enforcement agencies cannot create safer communities on their own. These volunteers provide additional manpower to the current essential services of the city.”

With the help of these volunteers, the city is able to provide additional assistance in any disaster or crisis. “It is because of our generous volunteers and their commitment that we can boast about being leaders in the country when it comes to our volunteer base,” Smith says.

“During the period 1 January to 31 March alone, the DRM volunteers rendered a total of 11 685 hours of service, assisting with 103 medical/first-aid cases, 44 fires and one disaster relief response. They were also present at 76 sporting and other events.

“The role of the volunteers becomes clear when one considers how much budget we would have to find if we were to employ contract or permanent staff to fulfil these crucial functions.

“It would simply not be possible and that is why we can say with absolute certainty that their role is invaluable to us as the City, but also to each and every resident. It is therefore important to ensure that our volunteers are equipped to carry out this selfless task as best they can,” said Smith.V

To become a volunteer, call Jacobus Peterson on 083 286 3988 or 021 374 5696

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