Christmas seemed a distant memory as the International Response Team and the Dog Team both started the New Year with full-on training on a chilly January weekend.

Instructor Garry Wonnacott briefs International Response Team recruits.

Instructor Garry Wonnacott briefs International Response Team recruits.

All the volunteers knew the importance of hitting the ground running in 2018, with our newest recruits keen to become deployable as soon as possible this year, and their training will be geared to achieve just that. 

The Community Resilience Teams are already back in training and for existing operational members of the IRT it was a chance to sharpen their own readiness.

Landslides in the Philippines just before Christmas. Photo courtesy of Philippines National Police Regional Office.

Landslides in the Philippines just before Christmas. Photo courtesy of Philippines National Police Regional Office.

With the festive season marred by landslides in the Philippines, more than 100 flood alerts in the UK and a 7.6 earthquake off Honduras threatening a tsunami in the Caribbean, the need for Serve On to be ready for anything remains as clear as ever.

In Salisbury, the new recruits to the IRT had a busy time as instructor Garry briefed them on our life-saving equipment, its storage and the way we pull it all together at a moment’s notice in order to get out of the door as quickly as possible when our help is needed.

He briefed them too on the tentage, lighting, generators, cookers, nutrition and general campcraft which makes us self-sufficient and able to offer vital assistance without becoming an additional burden on already stretched local resources in a disaster situation.

The trainees learned from Operations Director Dan about types of disasters, our humanitarian principles and personal administration and got plenty of opportunity to put some of the lessons into practice camping out at our training area.

While they learned some of the modules which will help to make them deployable as soon as possible, the dog team held some training exercises of their own, using the grounds and hangars of the training area to simulate open area and building searches.

The work helped to assess the dogs’ scenting techniques, agility, stamina and overall performance during longer searches, not to mention the post-Christmas agility and stamina of the handlers, and the team all had a great success rate.

Next month will be rapid water training for the new recruits but, in the meantime, all of our operational teams will be on standby for the worst that 2018 can throw at us.

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