We all know the “helping hand” effort put in by IJCian with various friends and groups, be it for the IDPs or the flood relief work. All the members of IJC (Islamabad Jeep Club) have always been involved personally, contributing time, finances and vehicular support to the best of their ability.
The work of IFRC (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) and PRCS (Pakistan Red Cross Society) also does not require highlighting, with their international origin, support, resources and donors, they have been very much at the forefront in any relief work not just in Pakistan but all across the world.
IFRC and PRCS had approached IJC a few weeks ago to seek help in training of 4X4 driving techniques for their drivers. A few of their senior office bearers joined us during our routine Offroad outing and barbeque a fortnight ago. They were very much impressed by the disciplined and coordinated driving styles adapted by IJC, and requested us to impart this training to their whole group of drivers of 4X4 vehicles.
On Saturday 23rd of April, IJC carry out the training of IFRC & PRCS in Islamabad. It was a day long event.
A thorough plan was discussed and arranged with IFRC/PRCS. IFRC had initially arranged videos for the drivers to have theoretical instructions. For practical experience of various terrains and how to handle the vehicle in such circumstances was arranged by IJC. Obviously the learning of any skill is a continual experience, however to make sure that the drivers have some idea of what they could come across and how to handle it, different terrains had to be selected. After finalizing the area where several different obstacles could be managed, the work of IJC started. All members gave full support with their precious time and expertise. A lot of effort was put in to create a realistic terrain which these drivers would come across in the line of their work.
The obstacles were mainly divided into three portions. First was handling steep ascents and descents, 2nd was driving on 25+ degree side slopes (specially slippery grassy slopes) and finally water and mud crossings. About 55-60, may be more people came from IFRC and PRCS on the training day. Out of these 45 were drivers from all over the country, the rest were support staff, senior office bearers, etc.
Initially general 4X4 instructions, basics do’s and don’t as well as important safety measures not to be ignored were described to the whole gathering by the IJC President and General Secretary. The drivers were than divided into 3 groups of 15 each. Each group was supervised by 4-5 IJC members. In the first instance a demo was done in front of all drivers for each individual obstacle and terrain to show how that particular difficult terrain should be approached for crossing attempt. IFRC drivers had brought along 8 of their TLC for the training purpose, The TLCs were essentially all 70 series, with the usual three varieties, of 2 door pickup, 5 door Wagons and the 2 door long wheel base hard top people carriers. Many were equipped with winches, Steel bumpers etc. For each obstacle attempt by individual driver, an IJC member accompanied them in the passenger seat as a navigator, passing on instructions as necessary. There were two outside marshals guiding through all important aspects of the obstacle and terrain, with hand signals.
The whole process of getting each driver to cross individual drivers through all terrains was a time consuming process, but was accomplished with excellent results. All the drivers appeared anxious at the start, like one would before any exam. But as the day progressed, they grew in confidence and relaxed. Obviously most of them had not come across such tricky terrains before, but they learned quickly. Great emphasis was attached to the fact that when approached correctly, many terrains can be crossed safely.
Getting your hand dirty was a term truly utilized in the water and mud crossing section where a more appropriate description was getting your hands feet n clothes dirty! There was plenty of opportunity to experience winching, pulling with tow straps, high lift jack use etc.
After a nice lunch arranged by IFRC and PRCS, certificates were distributed to all drivers by both IFRC as well as IJC. The Head of Delegation and Secretary General of IFRC gave a very warm hearted thanks to IJC members individually for their time, expertise and a very professionally arranged training program for their drivers. Afterward, all IJC members were given certificate of appreciation as well.
All IJC members need a special mention here for their tireless work during the whole training program. Some worked more than others, but no name will be individualized here!
For more pictures, click here.