As part of GESA’s mission to increase flow of information between industry leaders in the Global North and Emergency Services (ES) practitioner leaders in the Global South, a GESA Advisory Council (AC) meeting was held on 13 March, with members present from Latin America, Africa and Asia.
The wide-ranging discussion covered topics crucial to the success of ES in the developing world, including standards, success metrics and organizational structures. While circumstances range between countries – and within the ES cohort in each nation – all members agreed that there were some common themes plaguing the sector across the developing world that GESA can help address.
- Standards: Many countries model themselves on structures inherited from the colonial period (in Africa) or from large regional players like the US (in Latin America). These standards are helpful in some ways, but AC members noted they are not always well-suited to emerging markets. For example, where standards like NFPA are referenced, they are observed depending on factors such as operational terrain, government policy and available funds.
- Success Metrics: The AC discussed the value of having tools that can help countries measure their progress to motivate investment in ES. Through policy frameworks and specific milestones, countries could track improvements in their disaster risk management. The AC plans to go deeper on this issue to help GESA and other parts of the international ES community understand – in a time and resource constrained environment – how to best measure success in the field.
The AC also discussed one particular topic that highlighted the vast diversity of approach to and experience with ES globally: composition of the fire service. Fire services from our AC member’s regions span the gamut of compositions: old colonial systems, fully volunteer-based systems, fully paid employee systems, volunteer/paid mixes, and fire services that are sub-departments of the police or military. The AC members attributed these differences to regional cultural norms. In some countries, volunteering is a pervasive tradition. In others, the community trusts more formal ES systems.
The robust conversation is just starting. We look forward to continued discussion and discovery with the Advisory Council and welcome your feedback on our GESA LinkedIn Group.
For more information, go to www.gesaction.org