The nature of volunteerism
For Civil Defence, volunteerism is, in essence, the organization of a society for its self-protection from disasters in combination with the state’s self-evident care for rescue and corrective measures.
Volunteering was the main pillar on which the Republic of Cyprus was based, initially regarding civil defence matters and at a later stage regarding civil protection issues. The term ‘Civil Defence’ is defined as the protection of civilian population from hostilities. The term ‘Civil Protection’ refers to the protection of population and its property as well as the environment from natural disasters (e.g. earthquake, floods, fires) and man-made disasters (e.g. technological accidents).
Even after the reorganization and staffing of Civil Defence with permanent scientific and other organic personnel in the early 2000s, volunteering continues to be of the utmost importance. Civil Defence Stations, which is where conscripts undertake their service, are staffed with volunteers. Moreover, volunteers staff the rescue teams intervening in cases of earthquake, fire, flood as well as search missions.
Volunteering, in addition to having a significant practical involvement in society’s self-protection, is also considered to be an indication of a healthy democracy as society itself becomes an active participant in the decisions and management of the risks, crises and disasters that threaten it.