The following is an interview with the Citizen’s Rescue Organization (CITRO). I had the opportunity to speak to Corné van
Boeijen, who guided me through the awesome story behind the CITRO organization. .
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Hi Corné, could you tell me a little bit about CITRO’s background, for what purpose the organization was called to life and what your organization’s overall mission is?.
Well, it is nice of you to ask. CITRO has a very interesting story behind it. The name CITRO is an abbreviation that stands for Citizen’s Rescue Organization. We are a non-profit organization and we are completely reliable on donations given by individuals, citizens and companies within the private sector. We are in no way sponsored by the government’s budget, but primarily from actors in Curacao’s society in general. The core purpose of CITRO is to save lives at sea. We are operational based on this purpose and also everything surrounding this purpose. CITRO was founded in 1976 and its people come from all layers of society. Based on the medical necessities that are crucial within our missions we’ve formed within the organization the CITRO Medico group, consisting of mainly local doctors that keep themselves pre-occupied with the woes of the people at sea. Our members are people that out of their own free will voluntarily participate and invest their time and energy to remain operational within CITRO. These volunteers are always ready to go when they are called to do so for a rescue mission.
But concerning these people Corné, what is it that these people from all these layers of society are contributing to the organization.
Well first of all, these people get trained by us to become a full-fledged crew member the moment they sign up to work in the organization. Not all members become a skipper without any specific effort. It requires good leadership qualities and knowledge. People start in our organization in a position of candidates. They get in the organization by signing up through our website www.citro.org. An evaluation is then made based on what the aspirers (candidates) want and the skills-set that they already have, and in turn CITRO communicates to these aspiring members what the organization can do for them. After between 6 month and a year of training, depending on the skills of the candidate, these members get full membership of the organization. When becoming a full member our volunteers proceed with trainings to acquire a professional shipping license, an EHBO certification and they are taught how to perform rescue swimming missions among other things.
So you’re saying that you guys are also some kind of an educational institute. Because I can imagine that if you have members coming in from the financial sector, they must have little knowledge up to some extend.
Yes, indeed sometimes people may have little knowledge of sea operations we are conducting here in CITRO. Most of the education that we provide to our members are done in-house. What we cannot do in-house, we normally get support from professional organizations that provide these educational trainings to our members. These are organizations like De Ruyter, the HATO coast guard fulcrum, at SDK for the swimming rescue missions, and the Harbor and Safety Inspection (HVI) who ultimately also helps us with attainment of the professional shipping license.
I find this all quite astounding concerning the amount of resources that CITRO has. But concerning the newly recruited members that have little to know experience in these kinds of operations, what is their primary motivation and reason for joining the CITRO organization? Is it different for every person?
Well yes, it is different for each person. You should look at it this way. We have different branches in the organization. We have the CITRO Operations, CITRO Medico, CITRO Support and the technical team. So you can have people that want to contribute to CITRO, but being at sea has absolutely no attraction for them. They are part of the Support team. They are present for example at one of our stands during the celebration of King’s Day. We are actively present during triathlons and swimming competitions. We always make sure that we are standing ready with flyers and stickers in order to raise awareness and recruit more people. The CITRO medical is available for medical support, also through the radio. The doctors would have different specialized backgrounds. You could also have a person who would come up to us and tell us that he or she knows how it is to be stranded with his/her boat and that he/she would like to be of significance to someone within a similar situation. Many of the Technical team serve the organization on shore. So all in all these people sign up to participate within CITRO and receive from us in turn a valid education to support us with our operations. Even though the motivations are different for each person, the end goal of every person is to save lives at sea.
Tell me something Corné. Concerning the private sector and the government in general, do they see the critical importance of CITRO’s mission within our country?
To be continued...
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This article has been written by
Jordan T. Emanuelson
CEO of jConsultancy