FAC courses run for three to six weeks and offer an immersive learning experience. Where funding is available, a post-training field application component is often added, in which participants submit proposals for seed grants to undertake selected projects in their own respective contexts. These projects range from securing endangered heritage to training national teams of cultural first aiders. For example, the Egyptian Heritage Rescue Foundation (EHRF) was born out of one such initiative.
Participants are trained in how to reduce disaster risk for tangible and intangible heritage and leverage its safeguard during crises for early recovery of the affected communities. Course topics include:
- multi-hazard risk assessment for cultural heritage
- risk mitigation
- emergency preparedness and first aid to cultural heritage
- early recovery
- community-based disaster risk management
- conflict analysis
- working with humanitarian and DRR agencies
- mounting joint operations with civil defence and military
- preventing illicit trafficking of heritage.
Much of the course content is hands-on (60 to 70 percent), featuring practical trainings through simulations that involve multiple agencies. Skills such as leadership, team building, mediation, and negotiation are enhanced through a variety of learning activities such as role-plays, group discussions and interactive games.
FAC courses draw knowledge from the fields of disaster risk management, conflict prevention, humanitarian aid, and cultural heritage first aid – a methodology that was pioneered and developed by ICCROM.
Following the training, participants become cultural first aiders, with improved abilities to cope with physical, mental, environmental, and task-specific work demands.
Not only will they know how to assess and reduce risk, but they will also be capable of responding during complex emergencies to safeguard heritage and alleviate the trauma of affected communities.
“We learned not only to preserve objects but also to build bridges, between countries, cultures and people.” Participant, FAC 2010.
“Before the course, I failed to consider cultural heritage to be a priority for emergency response in terms of psychosocial support during a crisis. I now recognise that heritage is part of a person’s life and when we safeguard their cultural heritage, we save the community and their way of life.” Participant, FAC 2019.