There aren’t many women firefighters or safety officers as it’s still a male-dominated profession. Women are assumed incompetent as it’s a dangerous field and requires extreme fitness levels. However, 25-year-old Sathvika Gupta is proving everyone wrong.
In fact, she is the only brown woman from Asia to complete level 7 in safety (MSc in occupational health, safety and environmental management) from Middlesex University in London and fire safety management from Cambridge University. She is also a certified safety expert from National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH) of British Safety Council. She is currently the director of Sathvika Fire Services.
India has a strong workforce and workplace deaths are very common in our country. There are around 175 high risk professions. Sathvika has given around 500+ training sessions on safety across India and even the United Kingdom. “My current campaign is ‘Safe Zone Telangana’ and I will provide training in all the districts in the State on first-aid, CPR, evacuation procedure and PPE. I also want to spread awareness on why it’s important to include saftey in 10th grade curriculum and also introduce courses in this field,” says Sathvika.
Talking about how it all began for her, she reminisces, “My father used to run a small business selling fire extinguishers. He used to spread awareness on fire safety and I used to travel along with him on his Chetak. I was always fascinated by his work. When I was a teenager, my mom had to undergo a surgery and my dad was always by her side. During this time, I started going to his workplace and took care of his business. People started asking me for tips on safety and soon my interest to start awareness drives increased.”
Sathvika worked at Numaish 2020 (Nampally Exhibition) in association with disaster management in Telangana to ensure safety, after last year’s fire mishap. Through her NGO Adira, she also educates and empowers women in need in her neighbourhood. “You don’t have to go somewhere else to help people. Look around your neighbourhood, you’ll definitely find someone who needs a bit of your help,” she says.
Sathvika’s journey has definitely not been a cakewalk. “There were no universities providing safety courses in India and I had to go to the UK. The subjects there are very advanced and I had a hard time. And not to forget, to study in the UK, I had to first do my BBA and MBA here and I am so bad at math!” she recalls.
What are the difficulties she faced as a woman? “People feel safety is men’s field. I was straightway told women are not meant to be in this field. But I didn’t listen. Yes, I work in hazardous situations, but I know how to take care of myself and help others,” she says.
Urging people to train themselves in CPR, first-aid and fire safety, Sathvika concludes, “Life is important. Safety measures are underrated in the world. With corona, people at least realised that nothing comes before life.”
You can attend her fire safety workshop online. For details, check Sathvika Fire Services’ Facebook page.
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