Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


Nepal rescue team back after nine days in Earthquake hit country

The Essex members of the UK International Search and Rescue team deployed to Nepal following the devastating earthquake have spoken of their time in the country and the work they did carrying out searches, getting a major hospital re-opened and bringing relief to remote mountain villages.

The team, six rescue specialists and search and rescue dog Darcy, spent nine gruelling days in the country as part of a huge international search and rescue and relief effort.

Watch Manager Tim Hersey, Team Leader, said: “We all joined the fire service to help people and we feel privileged to have been able to go to Nepal and use our skills to help them in their time of need. But the real heroes are the people we met and saw out there. It was truly humbling to see just how resilient those people are.

“We saw people in remote villages salvage all they could from their homes and immediately get on with the task of rebuilding just days after disaster struck.

“We spent much of our time carrying out assessments in remote mountainside villages. Flying in, assessing what they needed and making sure that those with the greatest need got immediate medical care from the team doctor. We saw villages which were almost completely destroyed and made sure they got the aid they needed.”

Watch Manager Nick Manning was part of a team which helped get one of Kathmandu’s major hospitals back into action. He explained: “A clock tower at the entrance of one of the larger hospitals had collapsed and the building was unsafe to go in.

“We shored the tower up, cleared what rubble we could and made sure that what was left was stable and safe so the hospital could go back into use. When we arrived it was totally empty and by the time we left hundreds of people were arriving there to get medical help.

“It’s a major emergency centre and teaching hospital with 800 beds and 10 operating theatres and hopefully thanks to the work our team did thousands of people will be able to get medical attention.

“It made me feel truly proud when the doctors came out to thank us for opening their hospital and to see hundreds of people arriving to get help.”

The team were working in hot and humid conditions, initially as part of a rescue operation and later in helping establish the aid and recovery phase of the work taking place in Nepal.

John Ball and Darcy spent days searching the rubble. He said: “We went to the town of Chautara and we were the first teams to get there. Darcy goes across the rubble and can smell if anyone is trapped and alive. We didn’t find anyone but were able to provide closure for people and prevent searches taking place in potentially dangerous building where there is no one trapped.

“I joined the fire service because I want to help people. I wanted to be able to come out and put into practice what we've been training for – locate someone and ultimately save a life.
"You get on with the job but you always reflect on it afterwards. You do feel humbled by the people who have lost everything but get up and carry on."

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