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