SimEx2017 and Serve On

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SimEx2017 and Serve On

SimEx is an annual, three-day disaster simulation exercise run by the University of Portsmouth and Hampshire Fire and Rescue that Serve On is a huge part of. Not only do our teams take part and our equipment gets put to use but one of our very own members, Naomi Morris, is the Exercise Director. SimEx is all about collaboration, learning, knowledge-sharing and finding solutions for challenging and chaotic situations around the world. With over 2,000 participants today is the final day of the exercise and we'll be updating the website soon with more information on what we got up to but in the meantime here are some incredible images from Action Media International showing our guys on the ground (there's loads of great video content too on our Facebook page).

From dramatic tunnel rescues, to building collapses, car crashes and dams caving in on themselves it's been a full on few days extracting casualties and putting our skills to the test. 

Working in the field to extract casualties as safely and quickly as possible as part of the biggest simulated exercise in the world. The best way to make sure teams know exactly what to do when disaster strikes for real.

If you've ever wondered what it takes to prepare for a disaster - this is it. Portsmouth. 3 days. National and International NGO's, UK ISAR, Emergency Services, Serve On, United Nations, Portsmouth University and Volunteer organisations test their capabilities.

Make sure you're following us on Facebook and Twitter to see more updates from the field!

 

 

 

 

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Launching our new 5x5 Appeal

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Launching our new 5x5 Appeal

In the last 18 months Serve On has helped communities in the UK, Nepal and Haiti. Serve On deployed to Yorkshire and Cumbria in 2016 to help flood victims and also deployed to Nepal 36 hours after the earthquake struck in 2015. More recently we deployed to Haiti after the hurricane hit to support the relief effort. 
With these and many other achievements, we are delighted to announce the launch of a new development initiative, 5x5 and you can be part of it. We want to grow the Search, Rescue and Community Resilience work we do and positively impact more people than ever before.
The Serve On ‘5x5 Appeal’ aims to attract funding and support of at least £1 million. We aim to build 5 new Community Resilience Teams in the next 5 years and we aim to have the resources (people, money, equipment) necessary for up to five deployments to major disaster events in the UK and internationally each year. We are a small charity but with your help we can have a massive impact. We are mainly staffed by volunteers and our aim is to ensure as much as possible of all contributions go to delivery and not a corporate overhead. 
This is your chance to get involved and there are so many ways to do it. Our mission and expertise combined with your support & funding will enable us to meet our ‘5x5 Target.

Why have we launched the Serve On ‘5x5 Appeal’?

At Serve On we are recognised for our extensive international experience in developing community resilience and readiness for challenging events such as floods, earthquakes and other natural disasters and for our speedy response to them. We are capitalising on this expertise to provide leadership, training, project management and mentoring on a day to day basis across the UK and internationally. 
The UK Government has a goal to "establish programmes to support and encourage individuals and communities to be better prepared and more more-reliant during times of emergency, allowing the 'blue-light' authorities to focus on the people in greatest need.” That is exactly what we can bring to UK communities. Our successful deployments to Yorkshire and Cumbria in 2015 being examples of exactly what we are now planning to expand. 
Communities are built around people. We see the challenges facing our communities and we harness the talent in our communities - we bring purpose to the potential of people in the community. 
We empower, equip, train, and lead the people living in our communities to help themselves and take responsibility for their communities. We are a diverse charity made up of volunteers who come from all walks of life – the blue light services, ex-military, accountants, farmers, teachers; people of all ages, male and female plus our canine friends from our Dog Teams! Everyone is welcome, and everyone can make a difference by making a contribution.
The Serve On ‘5x5 Appeal’ will build on our Community Resilience Team model, successfully established in Salisbury, helping us grow across the UK, bringing new members into Serve On and giving us the chance to support even more communities.
Help us to secure more resources – people & expertise, funds, equipment, vehicles - to deliver our mission.

PEOPLE & EXPERTISE

  • Can you volunteer? We need more volunteers to join our teams, undertake our training and be ready to work in our community and search & rescue teams
  • Can you second some of your Staff to join us for a fixed period on paid secondments from their usual job (for example your high potential cadre or those transitioning towards retirement) to help drive the charity forward?
  • Could you be a new Trustee, joining our nonexecutive team? You can help support the development of Serve On as we grow (for example those with expertise in commercial activities such as further fund raising, procurement, merchandising, marketing, legal & financial expertise. We need ambassadors who can promote our work and attract new sponsors and partners.
  • Could your Company sponsor a volunteering programme – you give your staff a number of working hours to ‘spend’ supporting our initiatives each year
  • Can you lend us your Interns such as graduates and trainees from your company, who are able to give their time?
  • Can you lend us your experts on a pro bono basis to support our small management team and each new to work with us for example in IT accountancy, training design & delivery, marketing and add your core capabilities to our to our core skills?

DONATIONS & FUNDRAISING

 

  • Can you make a financial donation in support of our humanitarian & community work?
  • Help us finance new leadership positions within the charity (currently we have one full-time and one part-time employee, the rest of the team are all volunteers); we spend every £ we receive very carefully.
  • Could you commit your Company to sponsor a Serve On staff salary for a period of time, or potentially work as a syndicated group of companies to share the cost, to give Serve On a sustainable future just as the Rank Foundation have done. 
  • Could you raise funds on our behalf through your own fundraising efforts or via your company? Make us your charity of the year, run a marathon for us, organize a cake sale!
  • Could you Sponsor an event that we organize and be a ‘banner’ sponsor or financial backer?
  • Could you facilitate an event under your own brand/with your facilities – identify and target your relevant clients and host or co-host an event to help promote Serve On and raise funds just as Arbuthnot Latham are doing on the 22nd March 2017 and the Corporate IT forum are doing in May. 
  • Perhaps you could ‘open your address book’ and personally introduce us to targeted contacts from your network so that we have the opportunity to showcase our work and obtain their support

EQUIPMENT

  • Do you have Office Space across the country as hubs for each of the new community teams – our HQ is in Salisbury but we need spaces in Portsmouth, Bristol, London, Kent, the Midlands and beyond. Do you have a warehouse & office space going spare that we can take up residence in?
  • Can you give us new equipment to help support our training, not just technical equipment like Personal Protection Equipment but concrete blocks to practice breaking and breaching to reach casualties in earthquake scenarios, work gloves to protect our volunteers clearing out houses during a flood or for someone in need, waterproofs, safety boots, tents and sleeping bags. Can you or your company help supply these critical materials?
  • Can we use your equipment and your brand/logo to show our appreciation in return?
  • Do you get rid of the office computers every couple of years? Perhaps you’ve got printers, communications equipment or something else we can use lying around. Get in touch – we can always use office equipment and will need more to equip our newest Community Resilience Teams.
  • Do you have some high tech equipment that can help us?

VEHICLES & TRANSPORT

  • Does your company own vehicles that aren’t in use or are at the end of their normal service life for your company, but still valuable to us?
  • Do you know a company who could donate a 4x4 or kit van that would enable us to reach areas affected by disaster faster? We need new vehicles to equip our teams and make Serve On more effective.
  • Our dog team need a van to enable them to transport the dogs in safety and comfort, with their special equipment, directly to the scene of the search (whether that’s a building collapse or missing person search).
  • Are you able to provide free or reduced rate flights for our teams and their survival and their search equipment cargo? This could make the difference between our International Response Team reaching somebody trapped under a building in time - the difference between life and death.

 
If you want to know what your donation means to us, let us help put it into context:

DISASTER EVENT DEPLOYMENT

£500 could fund a deployment for our Community Resilience Team to support communities in need during natural disasters like we did in the Cumbria and Tadcaster floods.
£10,000 could fund a team of around 8 volunteers responding to one International Disaster as recently happened in the Nepal earthquake
£50,000 could start a sustainable fund for our teams to respond to many International Disasters and ‘underwrite’ our international response capability

EQUIPMENT

£30 could buy a pair of boots for a new volunteer
£35 could buy a camp bed to provide accommodation for our team
£70 could buy a life vest to keep everyone safe in our boats
£80 could fund a set of overalls for a new volunteer
£100 could buy a solar pack to power our laptops during deployments
£200 could buy a GPS unit to keep us on the move during deployments
£300 could buy a dry suit for a volunteer to wear during flood rescue
£500 could fund a new set of kit for a Search and Rescue dog
£500 could buy the medical supplies Serve On needs
£1,000 could buy a generator to keep us self-sufficient when supporting a natural disaster
£1,000 could buy a personal issue kit for a new volunteer
£1,500 could support the care of a search and rescue dog for one year
£1,300 could fund a new set of kit for a Community Resilience volunteer
£1,500 could fund a new set of kit for a volunteer working in floods
£3,000 could buy the set of tents we need for deployment and training
£3,200 could buy a pocket defibrillator, saving lives in extreme situations
£5,000 could fund all of our marketing and materials for one year
£5,000 could keep our minibus running for a whole year
£6,000 could fund a new boat and trailer for Serve On, allowing our teams to access hard to reach areas and potentially save lives during flood deployments
£10,000 could fully equip all of the handlers for our Dog Team safely
£20,000 could buy a new vehicle to support all of our teams
£20,000 could buy all of the Communications Equipment our team needs
£22,000 could fund a member of staff part time for a year
£50,000 could support the salary of a General Manager of Serve On to help drive our plans forward
£150,000 could equip a brand new CRT
£150,000 could equip a brand new IRT
£2 million could help us build a new state of the art headquarters

SUSTAINABLE INVESTMENT

£15,000 could fund training for the trainers at Serve On. With this money our courses (which are developed and ready) could be accredited and we would offer them publicly, providing a long-term sustainable source of income for Serve On.

ACCOMMODATION

£10,000 will allow us to buy facilities that will house Serve On HQ in the immediate future

 

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Haiti Hurriance Matthew deployment update

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Haiti Hurriance Matthew deployment update

Craig and Jacko are now back in the UK from Haiti and I know everyone will want to join us in congratulating them on a fantastic deployment. Serve On and Team Rubicon UK have yet again partnered up to bring desperately needed aid to communities in Haiti following the devastation of Hurricane Matthew. During the early phases Serve On were able to support Team Rubicon with practical assistance such as transport and logistics. For the second phase of the operation two members of the Serve On team, Craig Elsdon and David ‘Jacko’ Jackson joined Team Rubicon on the ground in Haiti to help provide communications and security expertise.

Both Team Rubicon and Serve On believe that partnership is key to the success of any operation. Craig said “Team Rubicon and Serve On complement each other so well with the skills and experience that they deliver for each other. It has been an honour and a privilege to work side by side with Team Rubicon."

Thanks to everyone who played a part in making this deployment happen!

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Serve On chosen as charity partner for the Real IT Awards 2017

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Serve On chosen as charity partner for the Real IT Awards 2017

We're thrilled to announce that this year Serve On were selected to partner with The Corporate IT Forum on the 13th annual Real IT Awards. The Real IT Awards are recognised as the technology industry's impartial celebration of the achievements in corporate IT. 

Paul Rose, our Chair of Trustees said "we couldn't be more delighted to be chosen as the partner charity for next year's Real IT Awards. It represents a fantastic opportunity for us to spread the word about Serve On and we are looking forward to sharing what we do with the guests on the night. There are lots of opportunities for everyone to get involved!"

Make sure you check out the website for the Real IT Awards - you'll even see Serve On over there - and we're hoping to raise lots of money on the night.

The Awards Ceremony will take place in London on 11th May 2017.

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Serve On Hurricane Matthew Update

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Serve On Hurricane Matthew Update

Pete Old, our Director said, "Our ethical approach means that we respond when our expertise and capabilities will directly impact positively on people’s lives, rather than respond just because we can’’.

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Get your tickets today for the Serve On Salisbury Ball!

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Get your tickets today for the Serve On Salisbury Ball!

Get your tickets here

This event will see more than 100 guests gather to celebrate Serve On at the fabulous Stones Hotel at High Post, Salisbury.

The evening will include a delicious, locally sourced three course meal, a fantastic auction with some very exclusive prizes and an after dinner performance by a live swing band, followed by a DJ. With the support of Salisbury businesses, members and the wider community this Dinner Dance is on course to be the most anticipated event of the year.

We can't wait to see you there - but be quick - with limited seating tickets are selling out fast!


EVENT INFORMATION //
Saturday 22nd October 2016
The Stones Hotel, High Post, Salisbury, SP4 6AT
7pm until midnight

TICKETS // £60

DRESS CODE // Black and white cocktail attire, medals optional.

All money raised from the event will help to fund the work of Serve On, both our Community Resilience Projects in the UK as well as our International Response Training and work.

Sponsorship and Auction // We also have a number of sponsorship and advertising opportunities available with a whole range of benefits. If you would like to sponsor the event please email us on laura.holden@serveon.org.uk to discuss your support.

Committee // We have a number of people who are supporting the Ball as Committee members. If that sounds like something you could help us with, please get in touch as we would love to hear from you.

Don't forget to share this email with family, friends and networks - all are welcome!

Click here to get your tickets today!

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New wheels for Serve On

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New wheels for Serve On

Some of you may have noticed a new set of wheels about the place at Serve On HQ. The crew cab van we took delivery of not long ago was funded by a successful grant application to Southern Electric Power Distribution as part of their Resilient Communities Fund. With a donation of £19,980 we were able to purchase a new vehicle with livery and a trailer which is going to be an amazing asset to our teams.

Paul Rose, Chair of Trustees said: “We are delighted that Southern Electric Power Distribution has awarded a grant to Serve On to fund the purchase of a new vehicle. The nine-seater crew cab is going to make such a difference to our work - enabling us to support more community projects and giving a huge boost to our capability. We are now able to be more flexible and reactive to any severe weather events in our local communities and across the UK. In these situations the quicker we can respond the better and with this new vehicle we are poised and ready to support local communities in times of need."

Huge thanks go to Southern Electric Power Distribution Resilient Communities Fund for funding the new vehicle.

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From our members: Pete Dunning

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From our members: Pete Dunning

"Since leaving the military I've been trying to find something to fill that void but I never have, until I found Serve On. Working with a bunch of people from all different walks of life, but just like a team as I did in the marines, makes being a member of Serve On so easy. I went on my first deployment with Serve On in York over the New Year and I was so glad to be finally putting all my training into good use and actually doing the job I've been trained to do."

-- Pete Dunning, veteran and member of Serve On Community Resilience Team

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Salisbury Rotary Swimathon 2016

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Salisbury Rotary Swimathon 2016

This year Serve On was chosen as one of four beneficiary charities for the 12th Annual Rotary Club Swimathon. On Saturday 2nd April at the Godolphin School Pool 20 teams competed with 112 swimmers taking part.

We put a team together, the Serve On Tsunamis who competed in the event and raised £520. The team were recognised for their contribution and were awarded Fundraisers of the Year 2016 with a fantastic cup to show for it!

The event was fantastic and we are delighted to announce that a £1,500 donation was made to Serve On from everyone's fundraising efforts.

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Bath University RAG Big Four Presentation

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Bath University RAG Big Four Presentation

In 2015-2016 Serve On had the accolade of being chosen as one of the Bath University 'RAG Big Four'. This meant that the fantastic students who are part of the RAG Society at the University raised funds all year and as one of their main charities we got an incredible donation of £5,000!

Our Trustee, Matt Huckin, attended the end of year volunteer celebration to talk to the students about Serve On and is pictured above recieving the donation.

We are so grateful to the students at The University of Bath for raising funds on our behalf this year - we had a fantastic welcome when our team arrived with technical equipment and search dogs on campus. We would love to come back again soon!

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Feedback from the Field

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Feedback from the Field

Thank you to Mike Cox for sharing his feedback on his encounter with our team in the field

"Yesterday we were out sailing with a group of under privileged youngsters on our 60 foot schooner, Ocean Venture. When we were mooring up in Langstone harbour in a very strong tide, we lost our boathook as it got caught on a mooring boy. A Serve On exercise was being held nearby and one of the RIB crews saw our predicament and came over. They rescued our boat hook and returned it to us, saving the day!

I just wanted to say thank you for the team who helped us and also how good they were at explaining who they were and what they were doing in the brief moment they came past our boat. Having never head of Serve On, I now feel suitably enlightened.
Keep up the good work and thanks again. Mike Cox."

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Update on EVOLSAR

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Update on EVOLSAR

In October 2015 five members of our EVOLSAR partner, the Emergency Fire and Rescue Unit (E.F.R.U) based in Malta, visited us in Salisbury to undertake Swift Water Rescue training to Responder level, in order to enhance their capabilities in case of flooding in their own country. As they had little previous experience of water rescue, the local waters around the Salisbury area provided ideal conditions for our instructors to carry out joint training with the E.R.F.U team and our own Community Resilience Team.

The E.F.R.U team are also volunteer Firefighters when at home, so spending a few days living and working from a functional fire station provided an ideal opportunity for them to learn a big about firefighting in the UK. Massive thanks go to all the watches and staff based at Salisbury Fire Station and the Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service for being so welcoming to our visitors. Taking the time to show them the equipment and methods they use in their work.

November saw seven members of the International Response Team deploy to Portugal for the annual EVOLSAR exercise involving the 6 member teams of EVOLSAR, teams wishing to join in the future and some invited guests from the USA. The exercise involved the participants carrying out several USAR scenarios as individual or mixed teams to encourage joint working. The weekend concluded with a meal cooked by a local Scout group and some presentations, including the confirmation of Serve On as a full member of EVOLSAR.

As the EVOLSAR association grows we will see more opportunities for us to take part in joint training and exercises, as well as hosting members of other teams for training in this country. We are currently taking part in a project to produce a basic rescue manual that will support training and interoperability between EVOLSAR teams. Our contribution to this manual will be a chapter relating to Flood Response and Swift Water Rescue, an area where we as a team have a wealth of expertise and experience to draw on.

If you want to know more about EVOLSAR and how Serve On got involved click here to read more from Tony.

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Member's stories: Gemma's Deployment Interview

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Member's stories: Gemma's Deployment Interview

Today we've got Gemma, one of our fantastic Salisbury Community Resilience Team members sharing her story with a behind the scenes glimpse of what our volunteers do when deployed.

Take it away Gemma - introduce yourself!

I'm Gemma, 30 years old. A member of Salisbury Community Resilience Team - Swift Water Rescue Trained and Power Boat Level 2 trained. I'm a tutor with the Prince's Trust Team Programme.

Why did you get involved with Serve On?

As a Team Leader one of the young people I worked with started work experience with Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service through Dan, Director of Operations and got involved with Serve On. In fact, he was to be Serve On's first cadet! I went along to see him in action and was so blown away by what the teams do I joined and have been a member ever since. I love the community ethos that runs through the charity, training isn't militarised at all and you do awesome things!

What would your day-to-day life be like, when not deployed?

As a Team Leader for the Prince's Trust I deliver self development courses to 16 - 25 year olds. I have a wife and a one year old daughter. I work Monday to Friday and spend weekends with my family (or doing Serve On activities!)

What goes through your head when a development preparation starts?

"What can I do." When the deployment call out came for the floods in Tadcaster I wanted to be there for my team. It's difficult to balance deployments with family activities but there is never any pressure to abandon family commitments. The next thing is helping with preparations and packing the kit you'll need in the field. We are a team who support each other, we are well trained too and this prepares you for what you may face during deployment.

Did you have any plans over Christmas and New Year that had to be abandoned?

We were spending Christmas with the in-laws and celebrated a birthday, but I missed spending my daughter's first New Year with her.

Are there any stories that stuck with you from deployment?

I met a couple who had lived in Tadcaster all their life - they were from a village where we sent a wading team into! They had never seen anything like the floods that were devastating the region. We talked for a while, about how they felt so awful for all the families affected during the festive period and the businesses that had lost everything. They were so proud of the community spirit that was being shown (I was very emotional about this!) but when I explained who we were and where we had come from she started to cry. She called her partner over again and said "do you know how far they have come to help us - WILTSHIRE!" The strength of the local people, the kindness that everyone showed us meant that I felt a part of their community. It was an incredible experience to be a part of and these moments brought back so clearly the reasons why I do this."

What did you do when deployed?

We cleared the Tadcaster NHS Health Centre, cleared debris and contaminated belongings into skips, shovelled sand that had been covered in oil and offered assistance to all local businesses.

How did you feel when you got home?

Talking to family and friends about the deployment helped me reflect. I felt proud of what I had done but didn't want praise for doing it, it wasn't about that. I felt compelled to say how bad it was but the news doesn't convey that human emotion we saw in the field. It was great being in the minibus with Paul, Fids and Phil and then putting all of our training into practice. To be part of such an incredible team of people and form new friendships is great.

 

Thanks for sharing your story Gemma - if you would like to become a member of our Community Resilience Teams get in touch today!

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Delivering training for the British Gurkhas Nepal

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Delivering training for the British Gurkhas Nepal

The team who deployed to Nepal to deliver lifesaving search and rescue training returned to the UK safe, sound and with a successful mission complete. Here's some more about what happened and why Serve On were asked to return and deliver the training.

Dan and Mark, both members of our International Response Team,  attended a multi agency disaster management course in Kathmandu back in December 2014, followed by our team's deployment to the area last year for earthquake response. On both occassions the team were helped enormously by Charlie Jones who is attached to the British Gurkhas Nepal as an Operations Officer with, amongst other responsibilities, crisis and preparation planning. Without his help we would have struggled to achieve objectives on our deployment. 

Following work with Charlie we were invited back to assist with plans to develop the British Gurkhas Nepal Search and Rescue Team and to review a number of plans. Fortunately the Commander of British Gurkhas Nepal was taking part in the course as well as the Head of Security for the FCO and the British Embassy. Twenty men and women from across military and civilian backgrounds took part in the course, all of whom will form some part of the response when Nepal suffers a predicted future large scale earthquake. A large amount of research has gone into predicting the next occurance of earthquakes in the area and sadly there is a real chance that the country will largely be cut off from International help. Community Resilience indigenous actions will have to stand alone for an extended period. In short, if you survive, you are a responder.

This is a difficult subject to confront for those facing this situation and there is an understandable sense of denial in some areas but feedback suggests that our Serve On team made a number of breakthroughs in shifting how those in Nepal can approach resilience.

As usual our team had to be highly dynamicand adapt to the students and locations available from classrooms to basketball courts, ceremonial gardens and local demolition sites - all in very high temperatures and early monsoon rains! 

The team covered specific planning, training and deploying light rescue and Dan's post-training feedback is that the team wer fantastic, delivering beyond expectations. There was also some excellent support from the team back home in the Ops Room who were able to provide information to support resources in the field and materials to deliver the training.

On the back of the team's excellent work we now have a number of opportunities to help on an annual basis and across other areas of work. In addition there is some interest in Community Resilience Team options in Nepal, as well as support for our own deployment potential. Thank you to the British Gurkhas Nepal for inviting us to deliver training and we look forward to a continued relationship in the future.

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#FakeQuake from the inside - from Guy Edwards

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#FakeQuake from the inside - from Guy Edwards

"I think everyone was nervous about the final assessment but also keen for it to start.

After so long training together I felt like I had a good idea of how to read my teammates to tell when they needed assistance and the right way to communicate with them when everyone's tired and under pressure. From practice and experience I felt I had a good grasp of what my kit could do, and where to find each bit of kit when tired.

My most nervous moment was probably listening for sounds with the Vibraphone - when I'd reached the very last point on the concrete slab being investigated - with wind blowing the cables and nothing heard until the very last corner. It was late at night, everyone was cold and nervous and every single tiny noise felt like it could be a potential response. Each time we moved the sensor on down the slab and heard nothing it got more stressful - had I gone past a person trapped? I was so glad to finally hear a response from a trapped person at the last point on the slab.

The highest moment was probably when I was down a cramped tunnel system, moving debris to make space for the rescue effort at the end of the tunnel. We worked through the night and I remember looking at my watch whilst working to realise it was 4am and was now my birthday. I didn't tell anyone but I felt really happy that I was spending it doing something that felt so important, the assessment was a milestone in about 2 years of build up.

When the end came I didn't believe it, I was pretty sure we must have another way point to go to, or more tasks that needed doing.

I was impressed with the locations and events in the final assessment, and it's so clear that a lot of work always goes in to support the training. I can't think of another opportunity which would see me learn all these skills and receive tuition from such a wide range of experts. I know my employer is also really keen on facilitating my involvement, as they like the positive character development they see as a result of the serve on training.

The thing I'm most looking forward to now is probably having the opportunity to help train the next wave of recruits, giving them advice on what works, and how to avoid the mistakes I made during training so as to speed up their development."

Huge thanks to Mike Kinsey from Snapstar for the fantastic images from the Assessment and Guy Edwards for sharing his thoughts and feelings on the highs and lows of the process.

#FakeQuake is a four day Operational Assessment for our International Response Team. More than 50 earthquakes are detected every day across the globe, and when powerful quakes strike vulnerable communities it can overwhelm local and national responders. Recent events in Japan, Myanmar and Ecuador have highlighted the devastation and human impact of these disasters. Alongside liaising with the international community to offer support to these communities, Serve On were been busy preparing the next generation of responders, with 18 months of training culminating in a realistic and grueling 4 day earthquake response scenario.

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What is EVOLSAR?

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What is EVOLSAR?

EVOLSAR stands for the European Association of Civil Protection Volunteer Teams. It was officially founded on 10th May 2014, which marked the culmination of years of work between the 5 founder member teams from Malta, Italy, Greece, Portugal and Cyprus. Other selected teams from around Europe, including Serve On were invited to take part in the inaugural EVOLSAR exercise which took place at the same time as the founding of the organization.

Two members of the Serve On IRT travelled to Italy to take part in the first exercise and witness the EVOLSAR foundation ceremony. They were very impressed that despite some language barriers the teams were able to work together to provide a common response to the exercise scenarios. Immediately on their return, Serve On started the process of applying to become a member of the organization.

Since then Serve On has maintained close ties with all the member teams taking part in and offering joint training opportunities and exercises, eventually becoming the 6th full member team of EVOLSAR in November 2015.

The aim of the EVOLSAR association is to have a group of European rescue teams that all train to similar standards and can provide a joint response if necessary anywhere in the EU or adjoining areas. The experience Serve On has with several international deployments in response to earthquakes has proved very valuable in helping to shape the way EVOLSAR trains during joint training exercises.

In the two years since its foundation EVOLSAR has continued to grow steadily and has recently inducted the 7th full member team, the OPVE from Budapest in Hungary, with other teams from Serbia, Spain, Italy, Greece and UK all wishing to join.

To find out more about EVOLSAR and Serve On's involvement get in touch today or visit the EVOLSAR webpage.

 

 

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The Tough Mudder Team Story

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The Tough Mudder Team Story

This time last year a mad fool called Steve decided that he wanted to run all 6 British Tough Mudders in 2015 to mark his half century on Earth. Craig, hiss friend and another made fool chirped up and said "I'll be your wingman" then me, an even madder fool, said "well I'm your wingman so I guess that means I'm doing it too.

Thus the three of us were honour bound to complete this challenge whilst raising funds for our chosen charity... who else but Serve On!

We leave our chosen abode at 04:00 so that we can join the first wave of the first day.  It starts at 07:40 and there is still a light frost on the ground.  I look around at all our fellow Mudders and for the umpteenth time that week I wonder what the hell am I doing!

The guy at the front gets up and starts talking over the PA about bringing your 'A game to A town', asking us to give him a ‘HooRa’ and applauding those who are first timers and those who are legionnaires (MultiMudders).  He talks about how we all help each other and that there is NO quitting here.  We all take a knee, put our hand on our hearts and, at the top of our voices, recite the Tough Mudder Pledge;

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I understand that Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge.

I put teamwork and camaraderie above my course time.

I do not whine – kids whine.

I help my fellow Mudders complete the course.

I overcome all fears.

With ‘motivational’ music blasting in the background (AC/DC - Highway to Hell is usually a favourite) we count down to the start and charge through the archway, into the orange smoke and onto the next course...  Not going is never an option, not starting is never an option, not completing is never an option so we put our heads down and put one foot in front of the other foot for the next 10-12 miles.

People recognise us from previous Tough Mudders and ask if they can run with us so our team grows.  People read our t-shirts and ask what Serve On is all about.  We are doing our best to spread the word and it's getting around!

Usually around the 2 mile mark we loosen up, settle into our stride and start having fun.  Craig and Steve have earned themselves the nicknames of Crash and Eddie after the Possums from Ice Age.  Running with them is just the same as it would be running with the Possums - with their crazy antics that keep everybody laughing all the way round (and before anybody thinks it, NO, this does not make me the woolly mammoth!!)

The one thing I do know is that I wouldn’t be able to make it through the course without Crash and Eddie literally throwing me over, under or through a variety of challenging obstacles!  They have my back every inch of the way. At mile 3 we all breathe a sigh of relief as it is usually by this point that I have managed to injure something!  And so we carry on..

This year we have run more than 60 miles through the glorious English countryside - from Winchester to Yorkshire to Henley, through sun and rain. We have clambered over, under or through more than 120 obstacles with tonnes of mud (of varying stickiness), swam through 6 containers filled with muddy iced water, received copious amounts of electric shocks (yes, they do hurt), crawled under barbed wire, jumped and swung into deep water, waded rivers, raced each other through swamps (funnier than you would imagine), hung from monkey bars and scaled walls.

Doing this we have sustained some injuries.  Several sprained ankles, numerous dented shins (all due to arctic enema), cut hands and knees (unless you were smart like me and wore gloves and full length leggings!), 1 cut butt cheek (leggings didn’t help on that) and 2 dislocated shoulders (incurred by mucking about, not on the actual obstacles)!  Add to this the scratches and stings from the brambles and nettles that you can encounter en route we have quite a job assessing the bruises and damage the next morning!  So why do I do it?...

There are those that we have seen who run as groups of individuals, who leave their colleagues behind because they are not as fast...  They just don’t get it; they don’t get it at all.  We start as a team, we finish as a team and we pull each other through. 

Thankfully, the vast majority of the time we get to see human nature and teamwork at its best and it truly is inspiring!  People helping friends and strangers alike over obstacles that they couldn’t make on their own.  The strangers look quite stunned that someone was prepared to help them but then, at the next obstacle, you then see them turning round and helping others too!  If we could instil the camaraderie and teamwork that you see on the course in everyday life, the world would surely be a better place! 

This, I believe, is the epitome of what Serve On stands for and is what I see at every training session I go to.

I want to say thank you to those who have run with us.  Seeing friends who have joined our team at various venues, both from Serve On and on the day, overcome their fears and concerns and get hooked on the experience and feel the same amazing sense of personal achievement when you finish and you get your orange headband!  Everybody should experience this at least once! 

Everybody is so friendly, people see our t-shirts and ask what it is all about and so we spread the word further and hopefully gain some recruits to our cause.  In addition to this we managed to raise £1000 for Serve On.  Thank you to all those who have helped us on our way

What have I learnt? Apparently, I can be quite ‘independent’.  This has taught me that I can’t do everything on my own, that I achieve more as being part of a team and that it is fine to ask for - and accept - help.  By doing so this enables me to turn round and help others.

This is not all down to physical strength either.  I like the feeling of achieving something but also pushing my boundaries.  A lot of completing a Tough Mudder is all in the head; it calls for a whole heap of positive mental attitude, and determination.

Oh, and NOT training is NOT clever!

Would we do it again?  Hell yes!!!  We are currently waiting for the 2016 season passes to be released and mad fool No.1 is trying to talk us into entering World’s Toughest Mudder at the end of next year… That will be a whole new story.

If you would like to join us when the 2016 Tough Mudder UK tour comes to town just let me know and I can send you the details. 

HOORA!!

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Visit ServeOn at the UK Emergency Services Show

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Visit ServeOn at the UK Emergency Services Show

ServeOn will be exhibiting at the The Emergency Services Show (ESS) on the 21 and 22 of September 2016.  The ESS is the leading UK annual event for all emergency services personnel.  It brings together the entire sector and reflects the importance the services are placing on finding new ways of working together.  

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SERVE ON return to Nepal one year after Kathmandu earthquake

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SERVE ON return to Nepal one year after Kathmandu earthquake

Five members of Wiltshire based charity Serve On will leave the UK for Nepal tomorrow to deliver lifesaving search and rescue training. Four members of the same team provided critical search and rescue in Kathmandu last year after the devastating earthquake and were the first British team with boots on the ground. This time Serve On have been invited back to share their skills, experience and deliver a training programme in technical search and building search.

Pete Old, Director of Serve On says, “Our charity has a history extending nearly two decades of responding to disasters and returning at a later stage to train local responders. We do this because we know more lives can be saved in the first 24 hours of a disaster by local people than by International search and rescue teams arriving in the following days, this way we can transform a relief-stage solution into a sustainable and permanent one.”

During their visit to Nepal Serve On will be discussing partnership working with the Ghurkha Welfare Trust, building on their unique Community Resilience model already in place in Salisbury and Portsmouth to build a team of highly trained volunteers who can respond in a disaster.

Whilst in Nepal Serve On have been asked by another UK charity, Team Rubicon, to support it’s completion of a project that HRH Prince Harry worked on. Dan Cooke, Director of Operations said, “We are really proud to have been asked by Team Rubicon to help them – in March they did a fantastic job in helping a group of determined villagers to rebuild a school that was destroyed by the earthquake.”

The team will deliver the training over 10 days, returning to the UK on 25th May. Since deploying a team to Nepal last year Serve On has also supported UK communities during the floods that battered the North of Britain in Cumbria and Tadcaster and continues to stand prepared to respond when communities need support.

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