Interview: Josef Mizzi

December 31, 2013 in Member Interviews

NAME: Josef Mizzi
AGE: 24
OCCUPATION: Aircraft Engine Inspector
POSITION WITHIN THE EFRU: Quarter Master and Team Leader

 “One black coffee please, and a glass of milk for my friend…” I say jokingly, as I sit in a corner of the EFRU kitchen table, next to Josef. Two facts about Josef – he does not drink coffee, and he looks much younger than he actually is, hence the joke about the glass of milk. Ironically though, he has had enough coffee to last him a lifetime, when his face was dabbed with coffee-based make up to simulate burns during an aircraft accident response exercise.

Josef has been a dedicated member in the EFRU since 2007. So what sparked his interest?

I always wanted to be a volunteer… I used to be a member in a youth organisation in fact. While pursuing my studies at MCAST, I observed a rescue demonstration and that was it… I was hooked!

At MCAST Josef studied aircraft maintenance. This led him to start a career with a company servicing aircraft and helicopter engines, a job that requires much attention to detail, precision and a certain degree of organisation… apart from technical knowledge of course. Despite his youth, Josef has already been assigned with the training and supervision of trainee technicians. This is, of course, testimony to the trust that people confide in him – something that the EFRU founders had no problems in doing either. In fact, Josef is a committee member and has been assigned the role of Quartermaster, apart from assuming the role of a team leader in case the EFRU are called out to assist the Civil Protection Department. So what does a Quartermaster do exactly?

As a Quartermaster, my role is to take care of the unit’s equipment – keep an inventory, arrange for the maintenance of equipment and advise on the need for new equipment. Should there be a call, or even when training, I prepare the equipment to be used and keep a list of what was used, so that once ready we make sure no equipment gets lost or misplaced.

Keeping on the topic of exercise and training – Josef is the resident casualty. No, not because he is careless or accident prone. He often volunteers to take this role during training because it makes a real difference to the rescuers when they can get actual feedback of how they are performing, from the point of view of someone tied up on a stretcher suspended several meters above ground. Josef is confident that the instructors are making extra sure that everything is done safely.

As Josef has been a member of the EFRU almost since the unit was founded, my next question is about how he has seen it evolve and also about any memorable moment as a volunteer with the EFRU. One of the most noticeable changes was surely the number of active members. When Josef joined, there were only a handful of members. Today the number of EFRU active members exceeds 40. This has led the organisation’s administration to evolve, such that it now has a number of sub committees taking care of different aspects of the unit. The capabilities have also increased and improved, also thanks to the investment in new equipment and vehicles. Yet, despite the increase in numbers, the group is still tightly knit together, feeling much like a family. New members find it easy to integrate and it feels hard to miss out on an event.

Something I will never forget is when, together with another two EFRU members, other NGOs and the CPD, I went to Libya on a catamaran to help evacuate people from Sfax (Tunisia) to Benghazi and Misurata in Libya. The vehicle deck was all laid out with stretchers… many were wounded… it was not easy! However there was excellent teamwork.

Considering all the commitment involved in the EFRU, what keeps Josef (and other volunteers) going? Does it ever feel overwhelming? He admits that at times it may be difficult keeping up with everything, both due to work commitments and also when fatigue starts to set in. However, setting priorities and having good time management is key to finding the right balance. Being dedicated to a cause is also a great motivator which keeps volunteers going, not to mention the sense of belonging to a great group of people. Apart from this, being part of the EFRU may be beneficial even on the workplace and life in general. Leadership, team work, relating well with others, communication and working under pressure are all life skills that employers will find very enticing.

New members are always welcome here. We have people with a variety of backgrounds, and age groups vary greatly as well. But that’s what makes us strong… working as a team, we have built a strong organisation that is continuously progressing and achieving more!

Joseph Bonnici
EFRU Rescuer