EVOLSAR Rescue Training – June 2015

July 12, 2015 in U.S.A.R.

When I joined the EFRU around two years ago I did not know what lay ahead of me; I thought that I would only have to carry people in stretchers and administer first aid. Being a member of the EFRU has turned out to be much more than that. Over the past two years, I have seen the members of the administrative committee work hard towards improving on what the unit had already achieved.In my opinion, their best initiative was to team up with other volunteer rescue groups in other countries and therefore founding EVOLSAR. Teaming up with foreign groups gave us the opportunity to broaden our knowledge with regard to rescue techniques, and also helped us to become familiar with different techniques and rescue equipment used in other countries. This initiative strengthened the EFRU as a unit, and enhanced our capability of responding to cases of widespread disasters both locally and abroad, with the help of our new allies from other countries.

This June, I had the opportunity to experience first-hand the benefits of joining forces with other countries. Together with 3 other EFRU members, I attended a 1 week course on Rescue in Collapsed Structures in Portugal as delivered by EPS; another active organisation that forms part of EVOLSAR. This course was organised in such a way that a real life scenario is replicated. Basically this meant that we had to ration the food and water, sleep in tents and act as a self-sufficient unit. What made this scenario much more realistic and interesting is that 4 different countries participated in this training / exercise; the countries were Malta, Portugal, Cyprus and Italy. In a real life scenario, such as in the case of an earthquake, rescuers from different countries will flood in and have to work together to coordinate the rescue efforts. The first difficulty one will find when trying to coordinate such rescue efforts with rescuers from other countries is the language barrier. This was actually one of the main challenges we encountered during the training we had in Portugal, but on the other hand it made the exercise much more interesting and realistic.

The course was designed in such a way that it had a smooth build up, each and every day we woke up at 08:00 hrs and started working on a particular topic, starting with something simple and building up as we go. We finished each day tired but always satisfied of what we managed to achieve in such a short span of time.During our evening meals we took the opportunity to socialize and get to know the other participants; slowly but surely a bond between a group of people who had never met each other before this course, began to form. This bond proved to be critical during the last 2 days when we had a 24 hour exercise, as by that time we more or less knew the abilities of every individual; we had also figured out ways to communicate with each other and considered ourselves as a family on a mission. Unfortunately, during this exercise, I suffered a migraine attack, but this occurrence made me appreciate more the bond that we had managed to build in just one week. People who I had never met before this training took good care of me and genuinely showed concern, all this while they were sleep deprived and doing hard work in confined spaces.

During this course I learned many useful rescue techniques, which I had never thought I would get the opportunity to learn.However the most important lesson I learned was about the challenges one faces and the rewards gained when working with volunteers from other countries.

Stephen Dalli
EFRU Rescuer