Abu Dhabi: A volunteer programme launched by the Emirates Foundation has helped train over nine thousand volunteers in handling real-life emergencies and disasters.

Sanid, originally founded in 2009, is open to both citizens and residents, and has worked closely with government entities such as the National Crisis and Emergency Management Authority, to ensure the availability of an able and well-trained civil force.

“Sanid is delivered through different levels of training, reinforcing the national emergency relief response during large-scale crises and disasters and provides well-trained emergency response volunteers capable of assisting local and national authorities in the event of a crisis or emergency situation,” said Maitha Al Habsi, Chief Programmes Officer at Emirates Foundation.

Maitha told Gulf News that the training delivered by Sanid focuses on several different key areas. “Sanid training courses focus on practical exercises in addition to simulation exercises and provision of training on responding to advanced emergency, including emergency preparedness, leadership skills, medical operations, safety in fire suppression, disaster psychology, search and rescue operations, sorting and classification, first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), advanced first aid, event management, advanced leadership and team building,” she said.

“The training courses are delivered in Arabic, English and Urdu and bring people from different social backgrounds together in the shared goal of helping people,” she added.

Having a well-trained civilian force that can handle disasters also helps makes the UAE stronger, according to Maitha.

“Such training helps us reinforce the national emergency relief response during large-scale crises and disasters and provides support to existing emergency response organisations. It provides citizens and residents of the UAE with the knowledge and skills to become involved in crisis situations and contribute to the safety of their fellow citizens,” she said.

“It is very important to have civilians trained to cope with national and local emergencies, thus demonstrating the country’s readiness to manage any crisis situation alongside government entities,” she added.

Khalid Al Tunaiji, an Emirati volunteer at Sanid, told Gulf News that he managed to use the skills he learnt in real-life emergency situations.

“One day I helped treat a driver when his car went out of control and off the road. I found the driver lying near his car. He was conscious at the time but his legs were cold so I knew that one of his legs was broken. I used a splint that I had with me to keep his leg straight.”

“I stayed with him until the ambulance arrived and took him to the hospital, but it was important he was tended to as early as possible, and thanks to the training I got from Sanid I was able to help him,” Al Tunaiji added.

Al Tunaiji urged both citizens and residents to join the programme, “Having a civil force alongside government organisations is important. Personally I feel very happy that I joined the volunteer force because when you are needed and capable of helping someone, this is a great feeling. It’s like you are giving back to the country,” he said.

As part of the programme, Al Tunaiji explained that he was put through several courses of training, “We did many training sessions, ranging from theoretical classes to practical classes where you get involved. The length of a session would vary, sometimes the session would be for two hours, and sometimes it would take up to six hours, depending on the subject,” he said.

“They trained us to handle all kinds of emergencies, such as earthquakes, plane crashes, and fires,” he added.

Sharifa Al Beloushi, another Emirati volunteer with the organisation and a mother of six, told Gulf News that she takes pride in being a member of Sanid. “This is a great cause. Apart from the numerous skills it enabled me to acquire, such as how to manage and lead an emergency, it also taught me how to become a true leader.”

“There are a lot of workshops, courses and training sessions that also teach you how to survive an emergency, such as remaining calm, holding yourself together and being able to protect yourself in a situation that can be life-threatening,” She added.

During her training Sharifa was chosen as a team leader for handling emergency situations, “Our tasks involved how to rescue civilians, and how to organise sessions and workshops to train other citizens and residents,” she said.

Sharifa told Gulf News that she was able to put her skills into action when she came across a major accident on the highway.

“One day I had to travel from Khor Fakkan to Abu Dhabi and, on my way, I saw that four residents were in a major car accident. I didn’t have any emergency tools with me but tried to do whatever was possible until the emergency vehicle arrived to take them.”

“Following that incident, Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan [Minister of Foreign Affairs], issued a law which entailed that all trainers and trainees must be supplied with an ‘emergency bag’, which features all the necessary tools needed to deal with an emergency,” she added.