This month The Column had the opportunity to chat with Mr. Martin Sjöholm, the Training and Exercise Expert of LACER. Martin worked as a paramedic before he joined the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) in 2000 as a medical coordinator. A member of the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC), European Civil Protection Team (EUCPT) and the Red Cross, he has worked as a project manager in the humanitarian sector, being deployed to various disasters and humanitarian projects across the globe.
When asked why he chose to become a training and exercise expert, Mr. Martin explained that for a long time he had been engaged in training and exercises around the world and found it rewarding to see participants grow and understand the way forward. He was particularly drawn to ASEAN having previously worked there. Given the region’s propensity for disasters every year, he was as keen to learn from others as he was to teach about how different disasters should be handled. The LACER team’s enthusiasm also inspired him.
“It is rewarding to work with different partners, such as the AHA Centre and to learn their ways of working. Working as a European Civil Protection Team member around the world, I have knowledge and experience that I can share with the AHA Centre,”
For Martin, trainings and exercises are the key to achieving new ways of working and improving current practices, as participants can learn in a relatively relaxed environment, without the stress of major consequences. The most important component of the LACER project is information management. It is Marin’s belief that if the AHA Centre can be established as the main source of information during a disaster, this will have a beneficial effect in the affected country or region. Today, information travels very fast and it is essential to be on top of things when a disaster strikes and to have the right support in terms of personnel and equipment.
Martin has worked in the field for the last 15 years in disasters, conducting assessments and reporting. As a mentor for the Assessment Mission Training (AMC) in Cyprus every year he learned about how assessments should be performed, and training of the ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) is one of the prioritised sections he would like to work on. The ASEAN Regional Disaster Emergency Response Simulation Exercise (ARDEX) is another priority.
As to what he hopes to achieve from the project, he emphasises mutual support.
“I hope to learn more about how the [countries in the] region support each other and how LACER can support this work to be more effective and precise,”
Implementing material and work from the European Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) into the AHA Centre is also a very important component of the project.
When not at work Martin enjoys relaxing with his wife Marie at their home outside Gothenburg in Sweden, fixing up his house and babysitting his grandchildren. As the Swedish summer approaches, he is particularly looking forward to barbecues with family and friends.
Written by : LACER team, Michael Hillary Hegarty | Photo Credit : LACER project