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Soap box: Middle-aged civil defence warriors

By Charlie Charalambous

If there is a natural disaster don’t worry I’ve got your back. If the earth shakes or a humanitarian crisis erupts then I will be there. I and many like me are your first line of defence.

We are a mobilised dad’s army of civil defence warriors out there on the front line saving lives and doing our duty.

You can sleep sound in your beds knowing there is a group of men in their mid-fifties out there doing the hard miles in case of a disaster. I and many of my kind are the unseen heroes of a volunteer force doing their bit for mankind.

Cypriot men of my age are called up to do two years of civil defence training. This basically means attending lectures on first aid, earthquake awareness and fire fighting. I have been doing this for about a year and this week I was sent out into the field during a Cyprus-wide earthquake scenario to test the reaction capabilities of civil defence.

This entailed turning up at a designated spot after receiving a text that an earthquake measuring 6.9 Richter scale has occurred. You are then sent off in a small group to a disaster stricken area to report back any injuries.

In this endeavour you are handed an orange fluorescent jacket, a torch which we left behind, and three envelopes with the various scenarios to be played out.

There are people who are very good at emergency response and are well trained to assess the situation; I wouldn’t put myself among them. Nobody really knows how they would react in a crisis while civil defence training gives you the tools to be of some use when the landscape turns into a battlefield.

God forbid if something really bad did happen; things are bound to go wrong as people will panic.

But not to worry because there will be a bunch of old geezers coming over that hill to lend a reassuring hand – incredibly I might be one of them. Like some errand boy bringing bad news while the grown ups are getting down to business.

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