Facilitating Emergency Communications

November 15, 2019 in Informational

The EFRU is proud to present the result of the hard work and dedication of its members in a project to build a communications console. This project has been funded by the Small Initiatives Support Scheme (SIS) managed by the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector (MCVS).
 
The communications console facilitates the management and coordination of a multi-site emergency by providing a standalone unit with workspace for 4 personnel, 2 white boards, 2 monitor screens, a base radio and electrical power outlets (including USB charging points). This unit is easily transferable to a vehicle, tent or other building serving the purpose of an emergency control centre. Furthermore, the console is powered by a silent generator and its radio may be connected to a winch-up mast that will help extend the normal range of VHF radios.
 
In addition to providing the EFRU with this useful tool, the project has also served to generate interest among EFRU members in the processes of planning, design and procurement of equipment and material, and also gave them the opportunity to participate hands-on in the building of the console from scratch. The whole unit was brought together thanks to the skills of the volunteers alone.
 
This article reflects the views only of the EFRU, and the MCVS cannot be held responsible for the content or any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
 
Joe Bonnici
EFRU Funding Manager
 

VIATICUM Project – first Transnational Meeting

November 3, 2019 in Informational

#EFRU has participated in the first #Transnational #Meeting for #VIATICUM Project – an #Erasmus+ Project being led by Edelweiss, the #EVOLSAR lead team for Italy.

Good luck Edelweiss!

Let us all strive for another successful project outcome.

This project follows on the footsteps of another #Erasmus+ project concluded in 2017, which was led by EFRU – Synergising European Volunteer Rescue Teams. This project had seen the publication of the #Rescue #Manual entitled Rescue Techniques for Emergency Response.

A4U – EFRU Admin Funding from Agenzija Zghazagh

October 7, 2019 in Informational

The administration office at the Emergency Fire & Rescue Unit has been reinforced thanks to funding from Agenzija Zghazagh, through its A4U scheme. In this year’s project, the EFRU acquired a variety of office equipment, including a laptop, laser colour printer, laser cartridges, paper shredder and storage media.
Running a voluntary organisation requires a lot of background administrative work, which may now be conducted more efficiently thanks to this project.
 
 
 

Fire Truck Donation – London Fire Brigade

July 7, 2019 in Informational

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) has generously accepted to donate one of its fire trucks to the Emergency Fire & Rescue Unit. The presentation was held at Babcock International by the Deputy Assistant Commissioner Rhys Powell in the UK.

Thanks to this donation, the EFRU is expanding its operational fleet of vehicles to augment its support towards the Maltese Community.

The Unit thanks the LFB for believing in and supporting the EFRU’s cause and objectives. The EFRU looks forward to develop further the collaboration with both the LFB and Babcock.

 

2019 Sicily cycling tour

March 21, 2019 in Informational

EFRU Sicily Cycling Tour – Largest participation to date.

The Emergency Fire and Rescue Unit (EFRU) has organised its yearly Fund Raiser Cycling Tour over the past weekend in Sicily, attracting the largest number of cyclists to date.

As usual, the 2019 tour was spread over a period of two days, from Friday 5th to Saturday 6th April, and saw 26 participants challenge their limits whilst cycling through kilometres of undulating terrain from Catania to the city of Regalbuto in the province of Enna and back to Catania the next day.

As a backup team, the EFRU deployed two rescue vehicles which kept close to the cyclists during the tour and a third vehicle that was used to travel ahead of the team marking the planned route and making sure that the chosen roads were safe.

The first day of the tour was particularly challenging for both the cyclists and the EFRU back-up team alike since the route around Mount Etna, on the east coast of Sicily, was hit by dense fog and heavy rain which made it almost impossible for participants to cycle safely without assistance. During the thick of the storm, all the cyclists were grouped by the back-up team and slowly diverted to a safer route, cycling between the rescue vehicles for protection from oncoming traffic thus ensuring their safety.

Day two was favoured with beautiful weather, sunshine and dry roads such that the participants were able to enjoy the beauty of the Sicilian countryside whilst cycling their way from the chosen agriturismo in Regalbuto to Catania. Challenges never stopped during this tour as at exactly the 100km mark, one of the cyclists had an accident. He was treated on the spot by the EFRU advanced First Aid team before being transported in the unit’s ambulance to a close ‘Pronto Soccorso’ where he was kept for almost 24 hours of tests and observations. This meant that three of the EFRU volunteers who formed part of the back-up team backed out of the tour to join the injured cyclist to hospital whilst the rest resumed the journey with the remaining cyclists, ensuring their wellbeing and safety till the end of the route. The injured cyclist was thankfully dismissed from hospital and declared fit to travel on Sunday and was seen to by the same EFRU volunteers who had accompanied him all along this journey till he reached Malta.

Obviously, this tour would not have been possible without the assistance of those who believe in our cause. A huge thank you goes to BNF Bank plc, Freedor Ltd, Go & Fun Malta, Virtu Ferries, Fahrenheit, Simon Debattista from SDB Photography and last but not least, to the EFRU organising committee and back up team that, thanks to their time, dedication and support, have got a number of cyclists addicted to this yearly event.

EFRU Sicily Cycling Tour 2019 – Teaser Videos. Stay tuned for the full version soon. 😁 #EFRUSicilyCyclingTour #EFRU #Volunteers #JoinTheEFRU #cycling #Sicily #Malta'

Posted by Emergency Fire & Rescue Unit on Sunday, May 5, 2019

 

SIMULEX19

January 25, 2019 in Informational

 

SIMULEX19 is another event, organised by the EFRU and funded by the MCCFF, which will see more than 40 foreign rescuers work in sync with the EFRU in a number of different locations around Malta with the sole aim of supporting our island in the unfortunate event of a disaster. Stay tuned for more feeds from the field during the event.

Training Room Overhaul

October 21, 2018 in Informational

This year, the Emergency Fire & Rescue Unit (EFRU) invested heavily in its fundamentals i.e. the tools used for the provision of lectures and courses to its strongest asset, its rescue volunteers as well as third parties.  The Unit has invested heavily in terms of time as well as financially in the development of its skilled human resource.  In return to this investment, the EFRU’s training team services its dedicated team of rescue personnel, the public and several youth groups and schools with informative and value adding sessions and courses relating to first aid skills, fire prevention awareness, safety in work at heights, urban search and rescue, rope rescue, and other advanced rescue techniques.

The EFRU took the decision to invest in its lecture room equipment to maximize the experience of trainees primarily through adequate and appropriate equipment.  The sourced equipment was intended to enhance the visual, acoustic and ergonomic experience during training sessions and this was successfuly achieved.  The EFRU, being a non-profit organisation, faces daily challenges to make ends meet in terms of financial expenses related to equipment maintenance, repairs and day-to-day running.  This is where Agenzija Żgħażagħ has supported the EFRU through its funding scheme Assistance4U which contributed a sum of €1,500 towards this project.  TITAN International supported the initiative with the sponsorship of two Air conditioning units for the same training room.

The EFRU appreciates the support of both entities in facilitating the successful outcome of the project within a shorter timeframe than it would have otherwise taken the Unit to complete the project.  It is through the intervention of such supporting entities that the EFRU can capitalise the experiential benefit of its activities for its volunteer youths and adults as well as third party youths and young adults.  The Unit is eager to undertake similar projects in the near future to continue building its resources to enhance its services to its volunteer core and the community.

 

 

Our 12th Anniversary – 23rd June 2018

July 26, 2018 in General, Informational

The EFRU is today celebrating its 12 years of local service since it’s conception back in 2006. A team which kicked off from 5 dedicated founder members is now is a 40-strong organisation which brings members together in training to assist the local authorities in emergency situations such as floodings, Urban Search and Rescue (USAR), Fire Fighting, Rope Rescue, K-9 and High Angle Rescue. As our motto states, our mission is precisely that of helping others, even if that means making sacrifices of our own and taking our own share of calculated risks. A mission which all the members fulfil willingly and entirely on a voluntary basis.

It is opportune to mention some recent feats which the EFRU is extremely proud of. First and foremost, it is worth remembering the conclusion of a monumental project – Synergizing European Volunteer Rescue Teams – which was funded by the Erasmus+ Programme and which the EFRU had been propelling forward for two years. Through this funding, the EFRU was able to publish a basic rescue manual entitled Rescue Techniques for Emergency Response. Also in 2017, our First Aid capabilities were given a significant boost by means of a new ambulance which was procured thanks to the co-funding achieved via the Good Causes Fund and EFRU’s very own Cycling Tour initiatives.  More achievements continued to mark our calendar throughout the past year. Through the MCCFF funding stream, the Unit procured a set of two field tents which now play a crucial role in the team’s preparedness factor, particularly in disaster scenarios and large-scale emergency response. Last but not least, we are all extremely proud of our latest addition to the EFRU fleet: the Mercedes Atego 1325 Fire Engine which, after a period of temporary loan, was garaged in its new home.  It now continues to serve with us. This was the fruit of a long-term collaboration with our Gozitan brothers and sisters of the Emergency Response Rescue Corps on a number of projects. This brings us to the essence of this small collection of thoughts. As the saying goes in Maltese, ‘kull qalb trid oħra’, and throughout its achievements, the EFRU hardly ever stands alone. And yet again on Saturday 23 June, the team stood alongside Her Excellency Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President of Malta to celebrate the 12th year of EFRU’s cause. The president kindly honoured us with Her presence in our humble Headquarters and expressed her appreciation to the work we do.  A proud moment to all, unequivocally. Where we stood, however, one particular member shone brighter and prouder than the rest of us – Josef, our seasoned volunteer and committee member, who this month celebrates his tenth anniversary as member of the EFRU! He also had the honour to be congratulated by Her Excellency the President of Malta and of course be greeted with a huge pat on the back by fellow members of the EFRU. No organisation could be more grateful for the selfless commitment shown by one of its longest-serving, enthusiastic members. And so last Saturday was a big day for the EFRU and one which weaved another thread in the intricate pattern that is our history.

 

 

Iona Muscat – Rescuer & Newsletter Editor

 

 

 

Our last year (2017) in a review

July 26, 2018 in General, Informational

“Ohhhh! What a year!!”

That was Ivan’s first, unfiltered, spur-of-the-moment reaction to the editorial team when we politely informed him that he’s going to have to contribute to this quarterly’s newsletter with an overview of 2017! We also politely informed him that that phrase alone won’t cut it – we really wanted to give you our readers a better read than that! – and that, as our much-loved director, he was going to have to give us a few lines and some honest thoughts about all that made 2017 a significant year for the EFRU. And a few lines and tons of great memories are really not hard to come by for someone who devotes, quite literally, most of his life to this great team. So here goes, straight from the horse’s mouth: our last year, in review.

 

Like other years before it, 2017 brought with it the regular events such as training on Saturday afternoons, duties in aid of other organisations such as Puttinu Cares and the Malta Hospice Movement amongst others, as well as other duties in support of the CPD such as Isle of MTV and the massive fire at the WasteServ plant in Marsaskala in which the EFRU’s human resource and capabilities were put to an arduous test.

Also, once again the EFRU was involved in the various training programmes for third parties (ranging from private entities to state institutions) in basic and refresher First Aid courses.

August is definitely a month to remember as we were honoured by a visit from the Honourable Minister Dr Michael Farrugia who during a meeting with all the members, promised to assist in our plight to obtain more adequate premises for our operation and training.

Yet, by far, 2017 will be ever so important for the milestones it set in the history of the EFRU.

From now on, it will remain forever synonymous with the closing event of the ERASMUS+ funded project which was held in Malta in May. This brought together some 122 foreign volunteers from 24 different teams and coming from 18 countries, all specialising in different rescue disciplines to participate in a 6-hour rescue simulation and 1 day conference held at the beautiful Fort St Angelo.

Also in May with the Assistance of funds obtained through the SIS funding programme managed by the MCVS, an open day was organised with the collaboration of the Gzira Local council.  This was held at the open “Council of Europe” gardens next to the Marina.

Later in the year, the EFRU’s Sicily Cycling Tour, was another remarkable success. This yearly event helps the EFRU raise funds for particular projects. In the last three editions, for instance, funds were raised to top up yet another achievement we had made after securing a contribution from the Good Causes Fund purchase a much-needed Ambulance.  The ambulance was finally acquired in 2017 and has, ever since, been one of the key-assets of the unit. It is used in the majority of our events including those organised under the umbrella of the EFRU CAP – Community Assistance Programme. During 2017 other funds were secured through the MCCFF Istrina funds.  These funds greatly facilitated the EFRU’s intentions to organise two international simulations here in Malta as well as the acquisition of two rapid deployment shelters for local and international deployments.

As part of the continuous development of our volunteers the EFRU tapped into yet another funding opportunity supported by the Training Initiatives’ Scheme of the MCVS. Through these funds, we organised a Train-the-Trainer course for our instructors.  This saw a group of our senior instructors attend for a 20-hour course delivered by PsyPotential. Furthermore, the EFRU initiated a series of induction training sessions on Psychological Preparedness of our rescuers, which saw its culmination later, in the beginning of 2018.  Also, during the year in review, 12 volunteer rescuers were trained as Trauma First Responders.  This was facilitated through the collaboration that the EFRU initiated with the ERRC in Gozo.

As part of the collaboration that the EFRU and the ERRC are fostering, the EFRU also secured the use of a Mercedes Atego Firetruck which was a much-needed addition to its emergency fleet.

To top it all up: during 2017, the EFRU changed its modus operandi in terms of committee operations, thus creating a 3-tiered multi-faceted committee system. This served to empower other volunteers to come forward with their ideas and commitment as part of the day-to-day running of the Unit.

As with previous years, the EFRU also had the opportunity to take part in not one, but three, international exercises and this through our involvement in EVOLSAR – The European Association of Civil Protection Volunteer Teams. The first two events were held in the UK and Portugal, respectively, whilst the third was hosted by ourselves, here in Malta.

 

Iona Muscat – Rescuer & Newsletter Editor

Personal Skills Training Course

February 3, 2018 in Informational

Rescue is a tough business and thus, rescuers, more than any other professional, need to be well-equipped with a multitude of skills; not only technical skills related to the rescue in itself, but also non-technical ones that will make the rescuer better prepared on a personal and social level. This, in turn promotes stronger teamwork and a smoother performance when dealing with time-critical and possibly life-threatening situations. These attributes, often termed soft skills, are especially crucial in scenarios where workers have direct contact with casualties and bystanders.  

This is what drew our committee to plan a course that trains its members to become effective rescuers through a holistical approach of addressing the need for becoming more self aware about one’s own soft skills. In October and November 2017, eleven EFRU volunteers had the opportunity to take part in a series of four soft skills training sessions, held at the Unit’s Headquarters and delivered by a professional team from PsyPotential. The attendees learned about a range of core skills such as working with emotional intelligence, understanding non-verbal communication, self-awareness and managing challenging behaviour. Four Girl Guides leaders were invited and participated in these sessions together with the EFRU volunteers and therefore, this gave the opportunity to all parties involved to understand better the role of the EFRU and Girl Guides in local community.

Frankline Lauria, an EFRU Rescuer and First Aid Instructor expressed that:
 
I think it was a much needed course for us first responders as it helped make us more self-aware in terms of the emotional impact emergency situations can have on us. We also learned how important it is to address such issues.” 
 
 
 
Miriam Cristina, Steering Committee Secretary & Rescuer.

 

 

 

This project has been funded through the Training Initiatives Scheme managed by the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector.  The content of this publication is the sole responsibility of the EFRU and neither the Training Initiative Scheme, nor the MCVS are liable for any issue arising from the information provided herein.

 

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