INSI trains news safety trainers in South East Asia
Manila, 21 January - Pistol shots crack out and 10 journalists drop to the ground, hugging the muddy terrain.
Anguished cries for help urge them to inch forward but intermittent gunfire pins them down.
"I'm hit," a voice calls out, and three of the journalists rush from cover to help the wounded colleague.
The firing has stopped but now they are faced with other problems. Where's the wound? How do we stop the bleeding? Who do we call for help? Will the firing resume? Is anyone else wounded?
In what they variously described as boot camp, military stockade, war games, mad lab, doctoral thesis defence, first aid and combat training, 10 candidates from different news organizations and media institutions in Southeast Asia took part in the first-ever news safety training of trainers (TOT) conducted by INSI.
The training was held from 13 November to 11 December 2007 in the isolated hilltop resort of Baras in Rizal province southeast of the main island of Luzon in the Philippines.
The TOT is designed to develop and enhance training skills of journalists and other news media professionals so that they can qualify as safety trainers and provide immediate support and assistance to fellow journalists, news organizations and other media workers in their respective countries and the region.
INSI succeeded in creating a network of 4 safety trainers and 5 safety advisers during the TOT course. The participants came from Indonesia, Philippines, Timor Leste and Thailand.
The course followed a tough programme. A week of basic first aid training, provided by the Philippines National Red Cross, was followed by two weeks of safety work, marked by intense classroom and field scenarios, practical demonstrations and learning-by-doing.
After the final selection, four qualified as trainers and had to run their own safety training courses in pairs. Two courses were organised in Baras and two took place in Davao City in Mindanao. They covered hostile environments, personal safety and risk awareness as well as first aid and basic life support.
Overall, the programme trained 75 journalists from all over the Philippines. Participants' evaluation of the newly-qualified trainers was positive.
"We've never been to this kind of training before. I have learned a lot about how to keep safe while working," said Arla Fabella, segment producer of GMA 7, a large Philippines TV network.
A training program is being drafted by the INSI South East Asia office as part of a larger national and regional program on safety which would include awareness-raising, network building, media-military dialogue and resource development.
The Training of Trainers was organized by the International News Safety Institute (INSI) and the Center for Community Journalism and Development (CCJD) and supported by the Open Society Institute (OSI) in cooperation with the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)-Manila. The training was supervised by the British-based security company TOR International.
The new INSI trainers will initially be deployed in their respective countries to conduct safety training for news organizations and individual journalists.