RIYADH, 21 May 2004 — The Civil Defense has set up a rapid reaction force to confront terror attacks and natural disasters, its director Maj. Gen. Saad Al-Tuwaijri said here yesterday.

“We now have a special force whose members are highly-trained and equipped with the most sophisticated equipment to deal with terrorist attacks,” he said in a press statement.

The Civil Defense chief said the mission of the squad also includes rescue work — extinguishing fires, evacuating casualties and dealing with chemical agents. “The majority of the squad members and officers have received advanced training abroad.”

“It is an emergency force fully competent to handle bombing incidents and natural disasters,” he said.

Six helicopter bases are being built all over the Kingdom to provide logistical support to the Civil Defense’s helicopter fleet. Officers were touring the United States, Europe and Russia to purchase the latest rescue helicopters to beef up the fleet, he said.

Civil Defense helicopters provided crucial assistance in last month’s siege on a mountainous area northeast of Riyadh where a group of terrorists were holed up.

Al-Tuwajiri denied reports the department was hiring female firefighters. “There is no such plan,” he said. “Women cannot do this kind of work. It is for men only. Our culture and traditions prohibit this because it will lead to mixing between men and women.”

Instead, the department in coordination with the Ministry of Education and others is training women — via closed-circuit television — in first aid.

Add Comment