E.F.R.U. volunteers back from overseas training in ‘Swift Water Rescue’

June 2, 2011 in General

Members and volunteers from the Malta Civil Protection Department, the Emergency Fire & Rescue Unit (E.F.R.U.) and Malta Red Cross formed part of a group of 14 participants, who took part in a course in ‘Swift Water Rescue’ in the region of Calabria Italy. This course was organised by the Malta Civil Protection Department (CPD) and the Italian Volunteer Civil Protection organisation Edelweiss,. This joint training experience was also attended by the Edelweiss volunteers and an Italian Red Crossvolunteer.Thecoursewas directed by Malta CPD Operations Manager Mr John Gera.

The Maltese contingent who consisted of 9 EFRU volunteers, 1 Red Cross volunteer, 2 CPD Malta staff, a CPD volunteer and the course director- reached Reggio Calabria on the 26th of May 2011 where they were greeted by the Edelweiss Director. Afterwards they wereaccompaniedto the Edelweiss premises to meet the other Course participants. The 32 participants attended two theory sessions on Swift Water Rescue, using special techniques, delivered by Edelweiss instructor Francesco Battista and course director Mr John Gera, at the Edelweiss headquarters in Badolato, prior to the practical training planned for the following days.

On the following morning at 06.30 the contingent of 32 Civil Protection volunteers and officers travelled to Scalea to reach River Lao, the training grounds for this course. All participants, geared up, were introduced to swift water through aggressive and defensive swimming that form the basis of manoeuvring in swift currents. Participants took part in several different rescue simulations, led by Edelweiss officers, under the overall supervision of Mr John Gera. The training course was split over two days with an overnight camp set up next to the river.

Safety was paramount, due to the inherent risks of this type of rescue training. Safety officers were placed at key points throughout the simulations, and qualified Swift Water rescuers and the Edelweiss doctor accompanied the contingent.

On Sunday, a presentation was organised at Edelweiss headquarters where certificates for .Swift Water Rescue Training (Special Techniques)’ were presented to all participants, in recognition of their successful completion of the course. The certificates were issued by the Malta and Italian Civil Protection; and were presented by Mr John Gera and Edelweiss President Mariella Licari. Also for the first time, 2 Malta CPD staff LARO Anton Micallef, ARO Geoffrey Galea, CPD Volunteer Neville Camilleri, E.F.R.U. Director Ivan Barbara and 2 Edelweiss volunteers Giuseppe Perronace and Francesco Battista were certified as Team Leaders in water rescue.

The highlight of this evening was the signing of a protocol of agreement, between the Maltese E.F.R.U. and the Italian Edelweiss, This protocol finalised the twinning agreement between both volunteer organisations whereby both agree to assist one another in each other’s territories. This event was followed by a Bar B Q offered to all participants by the Edelweiss Group.

As demonstrated during the presentation night, this activity has been another success in the twinning history of the respective Maltese and Italian volunteers. During the rest of the weekend, all participants were engaged in several team building activities to enhance further the solid relationship that has been built over the years.