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First responders and disaster management professionals practice skills to save lives

20 August 2019

Pretoria (ICRC) – Sixty first responders and disaster management professionals participated in a three-hour emergency simulation at Wonderboom National Airport in Pretoria to prepare for large-scale emergencies like Cyclone Idai.

Photo: The emergency simulation of a plane crash which allowed participants to observe best practice in the management of a disaster scene. (Khatija Nxedlana)

“Today`s simulation shows the importance of well–coordinated regional and continental partnerships to saving lives and minimizing casualties during natural and human-made disasters,” says ICRC forensic specialist Neil Morris. “We are committed to supporting the public authorities’ efforts to build resilient systems that can address these complex challenges through the exchange of international best practice.”

The simulation is part of a week-long course – the Disaster Scene and Mortuary Management Course – bringing together participants from nine countries across the African continent. The course aims to strengthen the capacity of first responders, forensic practitioners and disaster managers to lead and participate in multi-agency disaster response with a specific focus how to manage mass casualties.
In its second year, the course is organized in partnership with the Gauteng Department of Health Forensic Pathology Service, the University of Pretoria`s African School for Humanitarian Forensic Action (ASHFA) and the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (Australia).


Police cordoned off the scene of the plane crash that formed part of an emergency simulation held at Wonderboom National Airport on 1 August 2019. The exercise aimed at teaching first responders and disaster management professionals the standard operating procedures managing natural and human-made disasters including mass fatalities. (Khatija Nxedlana)







Representatives from the Gauteng Forensic Pathology Service participating in the emergency simulation held at Wonderboom National Airport. The dignified recovery and management of human remains is an important part of disaster response. (Khatija Nxedlana)



February/March 2020













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