China / Cover Story

Training urged for rescuers

By He Na and Hu Yongqi (China Daily) Updated: 2011-07-29 07:52

Every major city should have a disaster rescue team of professionals and well-trained volunteers, experts suggest. Good equipment would help, too.

"Emergency relief should not always become a task for soldiers," said Xu Guangjian, deputy director of Renmin University's public administration school. "If Wenzhou city has a strong emergency rescue team of its own, I am sure the rescue work could be better."

Besides official rescue teams, hundreds of nongovernmental rescue teams operate in China, said Lu Zhonghong, leader of the Lvye rescue team in Beijing. However, he said only a dozen of these grassroots groups reach the level of professional teams.

"The government should attach more importance to the rescue relief work and encourage the folk rescue force to participate in emergency relief work," Lu said. "Take our rescue team, for instance. We have a dozen professional rescue staff on 24-hour standby, and over 500 registered, well-trained volunteers.

"We are willing to help and we have skills and ability. Why not enlist us?"

Lu also said that too many times, hands and shoulders are still the main tools for rescue.

"I visited a fire brigade in Beijing once and saw some brand new rescue equipment in their warehouse" - equipment his team had longed for but couldn't afford. "The firefighters told me this equipment had been lying there for some time, because nobody knew how to use it."

China's Emergency Response Law of 2007 put forward some principals for building emergency volunteer teams. However, Lu said the law is not clear on the rights and obligations of government and volunteers, making its guidance impractical.

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