#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.

Laura HoldenComment