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Basic disaster management lessons were learned at the coalface by a Soweto family. Now members are considering first aid classes given by emergency management services.
IT’S been a little over three months since the December flash floods in which a lot of Sowetans lost their most important and precious possessions.


Painful reminder: Household goods damaged by floodsPainful reminder: household goods damaged by floodsThe Mcunu family in Seteke, an informal settlement in Kliptown, is just one of the many families that suffered in the natural disaster. The family that survived those floods by getting on top of an old coal stove, had their life back in control when heavy rains hit again, this time on Sunday, 13 March.

While the rain was not as bad as the festive season downpour, the family was scared. The children ran for cover at their friends’ homes while the parents put their bed on paint tins in case the house was flooded in the middle of the night.

It was a good move; the floods did come that night. The water was not that high but it did do some damage to the cupboards and lower parts of the wardrobes. Food and other perishable items were also spoilt.

In the December rains, important papers such as identity documents and birth certificates got wet. Florence Mcunu, the mother of the house, learned her lesson and since then made sure that important items were placed on top of the highest object in the home.

This way, they would be the last things to be damaged in an emergency. Mcunu, who is a housewife, explained that they were considering taking the free first aid classes that are offered at eight of the City’s emergency management services (EMS) stations.

Basic cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), which involves giving ventilations and compressions, is taught, along with basic fire fighting, which includes types of fire and what methods should be used to put them out.


A Kliptown resident salvages what remains of his belongings after the December floodsA Kliptown resident salvages what remains of his belongings after the December floodsThe stations are Jabulani, Dube, Berea, Alexandra, Ivory Park, Orange Farm, Eldorado and Florida. Classes are made available on request. To arrange lessons, call 011 758 5050.

With 28 base stations, Joburg’s EMS is one of the biggest emergency services units in Africa. It covers an area of 1 620km² and serves up to 3,6 million residents. Central to its operations is the saving of lives and property. It has five directorates:

Operations is a core department, dealing with the saving of lives and property when disasters or accidents happen.
Disaster management and pier (public information, education and relations) division deals with disaster planning and mitigation. It needs to ensure that every disaster is anticipated and that there are plans in place to deal with any eventuality.
Proactive services and fire safety focuses on preventing fires.
Corporate services and academy supports the EMS with a wide range of services, including training, fleet management, human resources, finance and administration.
Management support focuses on communications and marketing, quality assurance and research, transformation and employment equity, and special projects.
The EMS has its headquarters in the Johannesburg metropolitan police department building, at 195 Main Road, Martindale. The service can be contacted on 011 758 9530.

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