The call for applications for the 22nd round of the ERR this year was announced a month earlier than the regular timing to allow extra time for selected applicants to prepare for membership in the roster. Despite the earlier start of recruitment process the number of applications was very low, requiring the extension of the deadline twice, which almost doubled the application timing. A key factor affecting applications was uncertainty related to OCHA’s reorganisation combined with staff cuts in 2017, which left some mangers reluctant to endorse their staffs’ participation in the roster.

The selection process for the 22nd round for ERR was done in collaboration with 12 technical experts from six branches covering key profiles including Information Management, Public Information, Reporting, Needs Assessment, Civil Military Coordination, Community engagements, etc.   In total 42 staff members were selected for this ERR round for six profiles: 21 Humanitarian affairs Officers; six Information Management Officers; one Public Information Officer; two Civil Military Coordination Officers; seven Admin-Finance Officers and Information and two Communication Technologies Officers.

To prepare volunteer ERR members for deployment,  the Surge Capacity Section, supported by FIS, PSB and ASB organized and ran a FIRST training from 06 to 13 September 2017 in Vienna (Austria).  The course was hosted by the Austrian Ministry of Defense. The training was attended by 23 of the current 42 ERR members.

During the nine day course the participants underwent  an intense training schedule, consisting of a combination of presentations, inter-active sessions, desktop exercises and culminating in a field exercise. The aim of the training is to prepare ERR members for deployment by developing not only knowledge, but also soft skills and mind set which will enable them to understand the operational environment they may find themselves in and be able to contribute to, as soon as they arrive.  Historically, some two-thirds of the membership from an ERR rotation is deployed, for six weeks, or in the case of L3 and Corporate declared emergencies, up to three months.

The course ended with a 24 hours practical field exercise where participants were required to apply newly acquired skills and knowledge in test scenarios and also test their resilience to harsh environments, which they may encounter during surge deployments.  On day three of the course, one participant was already notified that he was to deploy, specifically in support of the response to Hurricane Irma.