Lithuanian Red Cross Society is Improving Its Preparedness to Act in Voluntary Oil Spill Response

A cheering group of volunteers of the Lithuanian Red Cross (Photo: Lithuanian Red Cross Society)

The Lithuanian Red Cross Society has been improving its disaster preparedness capacities during the OIL SPILL project. The staff of the Lithuanian Project office considers the volunteers and the capacity to mobilize them in the case of a crisis as the strengths of the organization. They are excited to explore the potential of the volunteers in the framework of the oil spill response.

In OIL SPILL, the main tasks are linked to the development of the Lithuanian Red Cross’ volunteer management system to be able to ensure that it works effectively in the time of crisis. Another aim is to strengthen the relations with the fire and rescue department and to agree upon the common response in the time of emergency. Gintarė Guzevičiūtė from Lithuanian Red Cross explains:

“We see a big potential for the improvement of cooperation among various stakeholders, namely state, municipal institutions, and civil society organizations. Currently, many things are only prescribed in paper, so the actual exercises to assess our preparedness will be extremely beneficial. We are looking forward to the practical exercise, and we are preparing for that as well.”

Gintarė continues that the organization would need to be better in quickly preparing the volunteers to be able to implement the assigned task. “However, we see good energy in our society as more and more people are willing to join our humanitarian organization.”

Actors from the Lithuanian Red Cross have been to several OIL SPILL events already. Olga Sevriukova was one of the volunteers who participated in the M/S Haveri exercise in Finland at the beginning of March. According to her, it was interesting to see how different voluntary organizations can be joint together to work on a particular task and how their cooperation and competence are important in obtaining the trust of the government to be assigned to this task.

Olga has participated in similar tabletop exercises on municipal or state levels together with authorities and other NGOs involved in emergency management. However, separate exercises only for the NGOs, including the technical resources for logistics and control of voluntary forces, is an idea she decided to take home.

To conclude, Gintarė shared the vision they have at the Lithuanian Red Cross : “Once the project is over, solid cooperation that can be utilized in any emergency exists among the various stakeholders. In addition, we have substantial expertise and capacities to act as a reliable auxiliary to the state institutions.”

Olga Sevriukova and Juozas Vaišnoras (right) represented the Lithuanian Red Cross Society at the M/S Haveri exercise for volunteers in Finland. Ossi Tonteri, Finnish Environment Institute, on the left. (Photo: M-L Ojala)

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