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USFS shares the Incident Command System with local disaster response agencies in Timor-Leste

TIMOR-LESTE – In late November, the USDA Forest Service helped organize a week-long training in Timor-Leste covering the Planning Process for the Incident Command System. The US specialist co-led the training with four trainers from Timor-Leste who graduated from the USFS ICS training program in Timor-Leste in February 2018. The training was delivered by Joe Reyes, retired fire chief from the Sierra National Forest; Cathy Scofield, retired associate director for Cooperative Fire, Prevention and Disaster Management, Region 1, Fire, Aviation and Air staff; and Steve Heil, retired deputy fire chief, Cal Fire.  

The November training was attended by 33 Timorese students from agencies working on disaster response such as the Bombeiros, Police, Ministry of Health and Civil Protection. The trainees learned about key principals of the Incident Command System and how ICS can be utilized in Timor-Leste to coordinate an inter-agency response to natural disasters or other events.

The current trainees are part of the second batch of ICS Master Trainer candidates in a longer-term disaster management capacity building program being implemented by the USDA Forest Service with funding from the US Agency for International Development. Timor-Leste, located in the ‘Ring of Fire,’ is highly vulnerable to a wide range of hazards including drought, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, landslides, fires and animal disease outbreaks. According to the National Disaster Management Directorate of Timor-Leste, the incidence of natural disasters has increased significantly in recent years. Climate change and variability are exacerbating the frequency and intensity of disaster risks in Timor-Leste and this trend is expected to continue, and thus there is an urgent need for improved response capacity.

The recent training module was supported by the US Agency for International Development Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and presented in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration.

Folks working problems at a table
USDA Forest Service and USAID volunteers working together to support the capacity of local disaster response agencies in Timor-Leste with trainings like this table-top exercise in disaster response. Photos courtesy of USAID.