Serve On International Response Team has arrived in the Caribbean ready to help communities devastated by Hurricane Irma. #HurricaneIrma
Serve On's mission to the Philippines has drawn to a close and our team will fly home today after a job well done.
Together with our friends from Team Rubicon and Dentaid, our volunteers leave behind them a grateful community better prepared for whatever nature might throw at them in future and children in better health and with their schooling and life chances improved.
The team deployed two weeks ago to Manduae City, a suburb of Cebu island's capital, Cebu City, in a collaborative venture to build local resilience and improve education facilities for some of the area's poorest communities.
Straight away our volunteers got to work training students from the local Emergency Response Unit Foundation, teaching them some of our Urban Search and Rescue techniques, such as casualty extraction, coaching them on fire rescue and handling road traffic accident casualties, and instructing them on some of the technical equipment we use.
Team leader Craig Elsdon and fellow International Response Team (IRT) member Nick Borritt, who was able to deploy thanks to Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue, plus Dog Team member James Lewis, were among the Serve On guys who imparted their valuable knowledge to the local emergency responders.
Meanwhile, two of our Rescue Rookies, Jazz Williams and Ethan Elsdon, helped coach some of the children in the suburb's schools on the facts behind earthquakes and how best to respond to them. They also assisted all three charities' volunteers in other work.
The joint mission by the charities was centred around the Umapad Elementary School in Manduae which provides education for a group known as 'the scavenger children' whose homes are on the local rubbish dump and who make a living by recycling other people's waste.
Using the local school as a base, Dentaid experts brought smiles to hundreds of children, training them in oral hygiene and performing scores of necessary extractions.
Team Rubicon UK got to work rebuilding desperately-needed school classrooms for the under-privileged children in the area for whom the threat of earthquakes is a daily fear.
The 7,000 islands that make up the Philippines lie on a major fault line which means they are subject to some of the world's worst natural disasters such as flooding, volcanoes and earthquakes, and Cebu island, south of Manila, has regularly suffered the consequences.
Local TV report on our team's work (starts at 25 minutes into programme.)
Couple that with its turbulent economic and political history, and one fifth of the local population lives below the poverty line.
Of the 1,400 children who attend Umapad school, around 900 live on the local rubbish dump so their classrooms provide a precious stable base for them, but some of the rooms house 60 students, making them cramped and hot.
Team Rubicon worked with local suppliers to knock down crumbling classrooms and rebuild them to make them more spacious; putting in electrics, constructing blackboards and sourcing local reroofing materials.
Back in the existing classrooms, Serve On Rescue Rookie Jazz Williams, told Spire FM radio the local people, and especially the children, were keen to absorb any information Serve On could offer.
She said: "It's awesome here. Everybody is really welcoming. It's just, all round, quite a nice experience so far.
"We've been to about six schools and we've seen between 400 and 600 students and we've been teaching them about earthquakes and how to prepare for them, before, after and during.
"The reaction has been really positive and all of the kids have got a lot more confidence around us as the sessions have gone on and they are getting a lot out of it, coming away with some really good information."
Jazz, 16, from Salisbury, added: "It's great interacting with the kids, really, because they get along so well and they're so grateful for everything; for you being there and chatting to them; and it's just really nice to see how positive and just how lovely they all are."
When Jazz and Ethan were not helping to teach the local children, they also got involved in the emergency response training, often in the role of casualties to be extracted from cars or buildings.
The teams will arrive back in the UK on Saturday, having built important bridges with a community which has found it doesn't need to wait for disaster to strike to get help from Serve On, or from Team Rubicon and Dentaid
Rob Witton, from Dentaid said before the volunteers left Cebu: "I think, for me, one of the benefits of the mission has been working in partnership with the other charities because we all complement each other.
"We have a great team spirit and, actually, there is a lot of evidence out there that suggests that when you combine different interventions you actually create a greater impact, so the sum is greater than the individual parts and I think that our case is a really great example of that."
Average number of kids in Manduae school classroom= 51
Total number taught earthquake lessons= 2,354
Total number of of schools visited = 13
Emergency responder students taught = 38. Search and rescue courses delivered = 3
Teeth extracted = 422
Dental inspections = 354
Serve On volunteers have hit the ground running in their bid to improve local resilience on the disaster-prone Philippines island of Cebu.
Less than a week after deploying to Manduae City, a suburb of the island's capital, our team has already trained 18 students from the local Emergency Response Unit Foundation in valuable Urban Search And Rescue techniques, such as casualty extraction.
They have also coached them in fire behaviour and in dealing with casualties involved in road traffic collisions, with two more courses planned over the next week as part of the joint mission with Team Rubicon UK and Dentaid. Helen Littlejohn writes.
The location of the Philippines on a major fault line means that the country's many islands suffer some of the world's worst natural disasters such as flooding, volcanoes and earthquakes and, with one fifth of the local population living below the poverty line, they are not always well-equipped to deal with the consequences.
That is why Serve On's expertise is so welcome.
Earthquakes are a real threat to everyday life on Cebu, so emergency drills are an essential part of education for the local children to prepare their response to any sign of a quake.
For that reason, 630 students have been taught what to do in the event of shocks, like dropping to the floor, getting under a desk and holding on tight, and they are lessons they can take back to their families.
The Serve On team includes two members of our Rescue Rookies programme who regularly train alongside our volunteers and who have travelled out to the Philippines to assist in the classrooms.
Team lead Craig Elsdon told BBC Radio Wiltshire the efforts of all three charities were much appreciated in Manduae City, especially among the emergency responders, because of the extremes of nature they have to contend with.
He said: "They pretty much have a mixed bag of everything - lots of typhoons, and earthquakes - and we are out here to try to help them with their training so they can deliver a better response.
"The guys and girls that we are training have been fantastic. In fact, the people of the Philippines are brilliant and very welcoming. They are very, very keen to absorb the training and information that we can impart to them."
The joint mission by the three charities has been centred around the Umapad Elementary School in Manduae City which provides education for a group known as 'the scavenger children' who make a living by recycling other people's waste.
Of the 1,400 children who attend Umapad school, around 900 live on the local rubbish dump so their classrooms provide a precious, stable base for them, but some of the rooms house 60 students, making them cramped and hot.
Team Rubicon has worked with local suppliers to knock down existing classrooms to make them more spacious; rebuilding walls, putting in electrics, constructing blackboards and sourcing local re-roofing materials.
Using the school as a base, Dentaid experts have brought smiles to 270 children, training them in oral hygiene and performing 160 extractions in three days.
During the course of the rest of the mission, all three charities will continue to treat children and complete the rebuilding of classrooms whilst building relationships and forging links with the local population and government officials to identify other schools in the area which need assistance.
We wish them all the best for the rest of their deployment. Watch this space for further updates.
Serve On members are all set to deploy to the island of Cebu in the Philippines for a joint operation to help improve the lives of the disaster-struck population there.
We have partnered with Team Rubicon and Dentaid in a collaborative effort to try to build local resilience and to improve education facilities for the poorest children in the city of Mandaue.
Teams of volunteers from the three organisations will depart on the morning of Saturday 19 August to The Philippines.
The collaborative mission will be focused on Umapad Elementary School, a publicly-funded school that provides education to a group known as “scavenger children”. These children live by recycling other people’s waste into money.
Manduae is a large city of around 365,000 people but with little funding for schooling the poorest people within its population. Large areas of slum-condition housing border its city centre limits with little or no opportunities for the young people there to progress away from poverty and into employment.
Umapad Elementary School services a slum area that has been devastated by numerous incidents including earthquakes, large fires and damage from recent typhoon activity. The buildings are mainly constructed from scrap materials and easily fall victim to any bad weather conditions. The school is struggling to provide good opportunities for education and is groaning under the weight of students and lack of resources.
The three charities will together provide vital repairs to the school, support teachers with training and equipment, enhance delivery of education to the poorest children in the city and provide much needed dental care to the children.
Serve On's team will work with first responders and local support volunteers in order to establish a bridge of training and support for the future.
Serve On student members from the Salisbury Area will work with students of the University of Cebu to provide educational support and to offer resources to support learning
Team Rubicon, meanwhile, will deliver crucial support by working with people to rebuild classrooms and ensure they are ready to support a learning environment.
Dentaid is a Salisbury-based charity that provides dental equipment and treatment along with education and training on dental health to affected communities around the world, so while construction takes place, Dentaid will provide a Dental Treatment Centre for the children and their families.
The multi-layered project endeavours to combine our skills in order to provide support and resilience to the scavenger children and their families.
We wish them all the best on such a worthwhile venture. Watch out here for further updates.
How Serve On helped the England Women's Rugby squad prepare for the World Cup
Making a difference in the aftermath of a storm.
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.
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
- 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
£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
£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.
£10,000 will allow us to buy facilities that will house Serve On HQ in the immediate future
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!
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.
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’’.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
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.
"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
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.
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!
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."
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.
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!
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.