An inside look at DHL’s disaster responders in training

How do the volunteers of DPDHL Group’s Disaster Response Team train themselves to prepare for disasters? Logistics of Things finds out.
DRT training Philippines
17 September 2019

The large tent looked almost ready as the Disaster Response Team volunteers put the finishing touches to what was supposed be a makeshift warehouse for incoming humanitarian aid.

Outside, another team of volunteers quickly received and dispatched the humanitarian aid to partner organizations on the ground.

The entire operation ran smoothly without hiccups — a first for a post-disaster deployment. Except the “disaster” here did not actually happen.

Designed to be as realistic as possible, the simulation was part of a three-day training session for new volunteers of the Deutsche Post DHL Group (DPDHL) Disaster Response Team (DRT), supported by partner organizations including the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance (AHA Centre).

Participants in action at the recent DRT training in the Philippines
Participants in action at the recent DRT training in the Philippines

When natural disasters strike, the foremost priority is the timely delivery of humanitarian aid. However, the airports in the closest proximity often become choke points due to the influx of aid relief goods and support teams arriving to provide help.

Under the guidance of experienced DRT volunteers, the participants picked up essential skills to eliminate such logistical bottlenecks, ensuring the smooth flow of humanitarian aid through the airport, and that all goods were accounted for, properly stored and prepared for distribution to the affected areas.

To get a better sense of what DRT training sessions are like, the Logistics of Things team joined the group of 21 DHL participants from the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia at the most recent DRT training held in Manila, Philippines in June.

Here are the top photos of what the participants went through over the three days.

Day 1

The Philippine Air Force shared the structure of the military with the participants to help them better understand the different military units they will meet during a deployment, as well as how to identify ranking officers.
Working with the military: The Philippine Air Force shared the structure of the military with the participants to help them better understand the different military units they will meet during a deployment, as well as how to identify ranking officers.

 

Participants learned how they can support AHA Center during a deployment.
Coordinating with strategic partners (UNOCHA, AHA Centre): Participants learned how they can support AHA Centre during a deployment.

 

The DRT volunteers shared their experiences about past deployments with the participants.
Sharing stories from the field: The DRT volunteers shared their experiences about past deployments with the participants.

 

Participants practiced how to use radio for communications. During the session, they familiarized themselves with the various code words for effective radio communications.
Radio training: Participants practiced how to use radio for communications. During the session, they familiarized themselves with the various code words for effective radio communications.

 

Participants also equipped themselves with basic first aid know-how during the training on the first day.
Basic first aid: Participants also equipped themselves with basic first aid skills to deal with cuts and injuries that they might encounter in the course of their logistics work.

 

Day 2

Safety remains a key priority. As the team consisted of people with different skill sets, they were given a briefing session on how to operate a forklift safely as well as how to perform checks on a forklift.
Forklift safety and theory: Safety remains a key priority. As the team consisted of people with different skill sets, they were given a briefing session on how to operate a forklift safely as well as how to perform checks on a forklift.

 

A lot of work goes on behind the scenes to ensure that a training session proceeds smoothly. Here, an experienced DRT volunteer sets up the venue for the training scenario.
Palletization: A lot of work goes on behind the scenes to ensure that a training session proceeds smoothly. Here, an experienced DRT volunteer sets up the venue for the training scenario.

 

One of the main tasks for a DRT member is to pack humanitarian aid for distribution. Participants were taught how to wrap and secure a pallet.
Palletization: One of the main tasks for a DRT member is to pack humanitarian aid for distribution. Participants were taught how to wrap and secure a pallet.

 

Participants were then trained on how to load and unload cargo efficiently.
Loading and unloading: Participants were then trained on how to load and unload cargo efficiently.

 

Other than understanding forklift safety, they were also given a hands-on forklift training session.
Forklift practical: Other than understanding forklift safety, they were also given a hands-on forklift training session.

 

Day 3

On the final day, participants were put through a simulated training scenario, which involved clearing airport immigration and registering with partner organizations.
Simulation exercise: On the final day, participants were put through a simulated training scenario, which involved clearing airport immigration and registering with partner organizations.

 

Participants also had to receive incoming humanitarian aid and release the cargo to the right partner organizations.
Collaborating with partners: Participants also had to receive incoming humanitarian aid and release the cargo to the right partner organizations.

 

To receive the humanitarian aid, participants had to set up a “camp” as their makeshift warehouse. They were taught how to keep a log of the quantity, type of aid, country of origin and the intended recipient.
Warehousing: To receive the humanitarian aid, participants had to set up a “camp” as their makeshift warehouse. They were taught how to keep a log of the quantity, type of aid, country of origin and the intended recipient.

 

Participants had to ensure that they have sufficient funds to purchase resources such as trucks, forklifts, food and water.
Budgeting: Participants had to ensure that they had sufficient funds to purchase resources such as trucks, forklifts, food and water.

 

Other than managing the warehouse and logistics, participants were also trained on their communication skills which are necessary to lead and coordinate briefing sessions with various organizations.
Communications training: Other than managing the warehouse and logistics, participants were also trained on their communication skills which are necessary to lead and coordinate briefing sessions with various organizations.

 

DRT training Philippines

In order to stay well-prepared when dealing with disasters, the Disaster Response Team continues to train new participants and existing volunteers regularly in various locations throughout Asia Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East.

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