*That's 'The firefighters' friends', in case you wondered.
Serve on volunteers recently returned from helping Portuguese firefighters tackle an 'earthquake' situation as part of our involvement in EVOLSAR - the European Association of Civil Protection Volunteer Teams.
We sent three members of the International Response Team to take part in the SARday exercise, an annual 24-hour event held in Portugal for their 'Bombeiros' firefighter teams to come together and practice their skills.
EVOLSAR teams from around Europe are traditionally invited to send Search and Rescue volunteers to observe and to take part in the various SARday scenarios.
This year the exercise was based around a fictional earthquake, with the various teams carrying out urban search and rescue (USAR) activities as well as rope rescues, rescues from vehicles, open area searches and K9 rescue dog searches.
A main focus of the exercise was to practice International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) procedures, with extensive use of the On-Site Operations Coordination Centre (OSOCC) model and INSARAG paperwork.
Serve On IRT members Tony Bates, Brett Davies and Rab Smedley joined numerous Bombeiros and volunteer USAR teams from Portugal as well as EVOLSAR members from Malta, Italy, Hungary and the UK and guest teams from Italy, Germany, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.
They deployed initially to individual sectors of the exercise area to carry out assessment work so that the Bombeiros teams could be called in and tasked with carrying out the rescues.
They were also tasked with command and control duties working alongside other EVOLSAR teams to direct the work of the Bombeiros teams, ensuring everything was carried out to INSARAG standards.
*Our valuable work with EVOLSAR improves preparedness and emergency coordination all across Europe but it costs money.
If you can help with our day-to-day costs, any donation would be greatly appreciated.