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Sarah Sheldon

We’ve just had a great weekend in Frankfurt training staff from Johanniter International Assistance in emergency wheelchair response. Johanniter maintains a volunteer Disaster Response Team who are trained and ready to respond to emergencies. Some of these volunteers attended the wheelchair training along with Johanniter head office staff and two members of the Theranova Foundation in Romania, who Johanniter draw on in emergency responses.

It was the second time we’d run the training and we’d developed the course since the last training to try to ensure every minute was useful. The feedback was enthusiastic from the participants and we also got a chance to discuss how the wheelchair response would fit in Johanniter’s broader emergency response. It was a fantastic opportunity for us to learn from people who had been involved in responding to disasters such as the Haiti earthquake, and to draw on their experience. Our discussions included:

• The need to keep documentation to a minimum

• The need to be able to pass on the training quickly and simply in the field

• Ways to assist service providers to keep the service simple, such as making the wheelchair size easily identifiable, and combining key forms.

After the training, I caught up with Manfred Emmerling, logistics coordinator for Johanniter and a member of the volunteer Disaster Response Team.

“I have some experience in Emergency Response. I have been and have taken part in several missions including Haiti in 2010, and an assessment mission in Tunisia in 2012.

II think there is definitely a need for an emergency wheelchair service and in our training we discussed when the best time to bring the emergency response wheelchair into a mission would be. It was very interesting to get deeper into the topic of wheelchairs during the training. The experience from the international experts gave us a new view. I thought the emergency wheelchair itself is very well constructed, stable and unbreakable – easy to construct and to use.

Thanks for letting me participate in your excellent training!”

And thank you Manfred for sharing your experience with us – the weekend was a real opportunity for a valuable exchange of knowledge between both organisations.


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