July 9, 2013 in Newsletters

It was all about ‘coming together’ for the members of the Emergency Fire and Rescue Unit when, on the 27th of April, the Unit participated in an international rescue exercise in neighbouring Italy. RESCUE2013, as the exercise was called, was the result of an initiative taken by the Italian Protezione Civile Edelweiss to bring together different volunteer organisations that operate in the field of rescue and community assistance. The exercise took place in Badolato, a small commune in the earthquake-prone, mountainous region of Calabria, South Italy and was aimed as an opportunity for cross-border collaboration in rescue training.

Amongst the organisations that took part were three major ones, each coming from a different country: the local organising entity, that is, Protezione Civile Edelweiss; the Escola Portuguesa de Salvamento (EPS-SAR) of Portugal and our very own Emergency, Fire and Rescue Unit (EFRU) which contributed with a team of 10 volunteers. The participating members formed three multi-national teams, each of which was led by one of the three leaders of the main participating groups: Edelweiss, EPS-SAR and EFRU, respectively. Each team had to partake in three different rescue simulations which focused on modules of USAR (Urban Search and Rescue), Medium-USAR and Confined Space Rescue.  All of the simulated incidents involved real live casualties that were, in different ways, trapped in abandoned or derelict places. These simulations represented different calamity scenarios, to each of which the three teams had to respond. Needless to say, while all of this involved different degrees of rescue expertise, the key to a successful collaboration was, in fact, teamwork and the participants’ will to share their knowledge amongst themselves and learn from one another. This exercise gave the EFRU volunteers the opportunity not only to perform in unfamiliar environments but also to work alongside foreign rescuers and to expose themselves to different rescue techniques.

For the EFRU, ‘coming together’ with other rescue teams from abroad was certainly a great experience which has left a positive impact on its participating members. It has laid the groundwork for similar cross-border collaborations in the future, to which the EFRU certainly looks forward.  We aim at ‘keeping together’, in order to develop present methods and explore new ways to improve operating procedures. RESCUE2013 has been an excellent example of how ‘working together’ can indeed be the key to success, particularly in the field of rescue, where the collective effort of all volunteers saves lives.

Iona Muscat
EFRU Rescue Volunteer

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