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The intense HEAT course prepares humanitarians overseas

And Raptim was there to participate!

The Basic Safety and Security Course, or HEAT, prepares humanitarian aid workers for being deployed to unsafe areas that are facing humanitarian crisis. Raptim’s very own Jacco Draaijer followed this intense course organized by Centre for Safety, and he told us about his experiences.

HEAT Course is organized by Centre of Safety

“As soon as we entered Bekuran, we visited a teahouse. The host there invited us to sit down,” Jacco recalls. Bekuran is a fictitious, but very dangerous country and served as a stage for the course. “The man asked us what we did for a living. We told him we were working for Global Child Care, an NGO. As soon as he heard us say the word ‘child’, he completely lost it.”

He started to yell and scream at Jacco and the rest of the group. “Where is my son?! You took my child!” Suddenly the mood entirely shifted, and things were starting to get really dangerous. “The angered man took out his gun and pointed it at our heads. ┬áHe was ranting and raving.” Apparently, something terrible had happened to the man’s family, before the arrival of the humanitarian aid workers. But now it was up to them to deal with the situation.

The assigned group leader struggled to make a connection with the man, so Jacco decided to step in. “I was facing the wall and asked him whether if I could turn around and talk to him. I explained to him that I understood his situation because I have two kids myself. Believe me, we are not the enemy!”

“I sympathized with him as much as I could. I told him that he didn’t want to shoot us before he knew what happened to his son. Eventually, he calmed down and hugged us.” Jacco rescued the situation. “Now I am going to make you a cup of tea.”

Jacco and the other participants had learned there is a difference between emotional aggression and instrumental aggression. Emotional aggression is not meant personally, you are just at the wrong place at the wrong time. The man in this scenario had experienced something terrible that had nothing to do with the NGO workers, yet his anger was directed at them. That required a different approach.

"This really is a must-do course for humanitarians," Jacco says. "For me, it was a very useful experience. Even though I did well in the tea house, this normally is an assignment mostly doctors and women succeed in. That is because they show empathy and compassion. Men struggle with this. Usually, the men go outside the teahouse, and the women solve it."

The course in the teahouse was one of many Jacco experienced during the three-days HEAT course.He and his fellow participants were trained in security awareness, medical accident control, dealing with aggression and they even went through a hostage survival session.

"You could use a course like this to see which humanitarian aid workers we should deploy. During the same training course in the USA, a participant took away the gun of the man and shot him. You could ask yourself whether it would be wise to send a participant like that to a conflict area."

For Jacco, the HEAT course was still a great success. From this Basic Safety and Security Course based on role playing and interaction in simulations of real-life scenarios, he learned and practiced skills to help build self-confidence and for adopting a rational attitude under stressful circumstances.

Check out our interview with Centre for Safety co-founder Ebe Brons!

At Raptim, we seek to take away as much burden as possible for you, like providing you with ways to educate yourself as a compassionate humanitarian aid worker. Our specialized services make us a full-service humanitarian travel management company second to none. Every day, we seek to improve the quality and add value to the world of humanitarian travel. Kindly inform your travel manager about our travel services. Look at our factsheet for a full overview and contact us should you have any questions whatsoever.