SAR Day 2016

January 2, 2017 in General

The fourth edition of SAR day, held in Peniche, Portugal, marked the last foreign event in the very busy EFRU calendar this year. SAR day has become an annual 24 hour rescue exercise, organised by Escola Portuguesa de Salvamento and Bombeiros Voluntarios de Peniche, which gathers together several local and foreign rescue teams to practise working together. These teams, most of which are entirely made up of volunteers, prepare themselves in case a real disaster necessitates a big rescue effort that overwhelms the resources of the affected region.

This year, the exercise simulated a weather-related event hitting the lower half of the Portuguese coast, with the area around Peniche being the most affected. Every time, the organisers strive to make the tasks as accurate and realistic as possible. This year they definitely overdid themselves, as by the start of the exercise, the sky darkened and from then onwards it was one rain shower after the other. The exercise did not stop though. Despite real weather warnings, the rescue teams deployed to the simulated accident sites and performed their tasks in challenging but realistic conditions.

The EFRU participated in the exercise on two fronts: there were members who teamed up with other local and foreign rescuers and deployed on a number of tasks ranging from wild fire fighting, to USAR, rope and cliff rescue. Meanwhile, the team leaders took on an important role in the OSOCC (On-site Operations Coordination Centre) assessing the needs that every task presented, matching available resources  and deploying teams and equipment to carry out the task.

All in all, it was another great experience, full of valuable learning points, but also an opportunity to meet other dedicated people all selflessly giving their time to prepare for when they need to help others in distress. The great hospitality offered by the organisers and the hosts (BombeirosVoluntarios de Peniche) further added to the success of SAR Day 2016, and keeps everyone looking forward to next year’s edition.