FAES Trains Salvadorans to Protect themselves in Natural Disasters 

FAES Trains Salvadorans to Protect themselves  in Natural Disasters 

By Lorena Baires/ Diálogo
July 20, 2016

The Salvadoran Armed Forces (FAES) is training Salvadorans
who live in vulnerable areas how to adequately respond when faced with
emergency situations caused by natural disasters. The training is being carried out in different parts of the
country, and the most recent sessions took place in June in the municipalities
of Candelaria and Apastepeque, located in the departments of Cuscatlán and San
Vicente, respectively. The Armed Force’s Transmission Support Command (CATFA, for
its Spanish acronym) showed the inhabitants of Cuscatlán, a city that lies
along the banks of Lake Ilopango, how to respond when faced with floods and
mudslides caused by the intense rains that accompany a tropical depression. "This exercise seeks to raise our personnel's level of
operational readiness, so they can provide security to the population in a
timely way and alleviate the suffering of possible victims. Likewise, it helps
improve our effective coordination with the country's other emergency
units," explained Colonel Víctor Antonio Orellana, with the FAES 5th
Military Detachment. Simulation in Action As the ambulance sirens loudly rang out, soldiers evacuated
the affected Salvadorans and transported them to the emergency aid station,
temporary shelter, and medical center that had been set up. Resting on a stretcher was 58-year-old fisherman Julio
Medrano, pretending to have been swept away by currents flowing from the lake
while he fished across from the San Antonio district in the municipality of
Candelaria. “We thank the Armed Forces for this exercise, which has
taught us things we didn't know before about what to do during these disasters,
especially because we live next to the lake, and heavy rains come frequently in
the country, and the lake water is always flooding our houses," Medrano
said. Rescue squads ran from place to place, mobilizing those
affected by the simulated disaster, making their way among flooded paths and
huge pools of water. In the temporary shelter sat Lisette Pineda, a member of the
Committee of Municipal Civilian Protection of the Cuscatlán mayor's office. She
expressed satisfaction with the results of the simulation exercise. “We are very happy because the entire community got involved
in the simulation and this means we will all know what to do when faced with a
real emergency. We expect to continue these trainings to increase the response
efficiency of all the involved institutions," Pineda said. Fifty-four kilometers away, in the municipality of
Apastepeque, the 5th Infantry Brigade of the FAES was training civilians how to
protect themselves during flooding caused by heavy storms from another tropical
depression. Upon hearing the evacuation call from the municipality's
loudspeakers, the Emergency Committee of the Brisas de Santa Rita neighborhood
met up with the soldiers to evacuate the injured. At the same time, medical
personnel selected patients to be transferred to the Health Unit and the
National Hospital of San Vicente. Adriana Díaz, a 37-year-old homemaker, simulated being a
casualty from the collapse of a wall in her residence. During the exercise, a neighbor was able to
enter the house and free her from the rubble that had been crushing her. “I'm thankful to the FAES for having given us this training,
because behind our neighborhood is a gully that overflows when it rains a lot.
We hope it never happens, but I'm sure that we are now well prepared if there
is a disaster," she said as she was transported to the hospital by
ambulance. Luis Antonio Azucena, who represents the National
Directorate of Civilian Protection, believes these simulation exercises are
worthwhile in that they aid preparations for the floods, earthquakes and
mudslides caused by the geographic conditions of the country. “We are faced with a reality: that the country is vulnerable
to natural disasters and our people must be trained to avoid misfortunes. That is why we coordinate with the actions of
the FAES that seek to provide civilians the ability to protect themselves in an
emergency," Azucena said. The members of CATFA and the 5th Infantry Brigade said they
would continue to carry out these types of simulations so that communities are
trained on what to do during disasters, from whom to seek help, and which
prevention and mitigation measures to adopt when helping an injured person.