Serve On begin 4 day test for Earthquake Responders
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, Salisbury-based charity Serve On has been busy preparing the next generation of responders, with 18 months of training culminating in a realistic and grueling 4 day earthquake response scenario, starting on Thursday 21st April.
“FakeQuake is not designed to break anybody, but it is very, very hard. We want the team to understand the challenges of applying their technical skills when they are exhausted, a long way from home, and in an unfamiliar environment; we also want the international community to be reassured that the rescuers we send to disasters are as ready as anyone can be to help” Dan Cooke, Operations Director.
The team undertaking the challenge are unaware of the events that will unfold, or the locations they will be sent to. They will be going about their normal business tomorrow – as firefighters, journalists, businessmen, academics and farmers – when an SMS will alert them to an earthquake striking a community that needs their help. Over the following 4 days they will bring their diverse skills together and be put through their paces, as challenging scenarios unfold in secret locations across the UK. They will have no contact with home and will be working day and night in a simulation of the first few precious days after a disaster hits, when the technical skills of Serve On can make a life-saving difference to people trapped underneath the rubble. Our trained search and rescue dogs will also be put through their paces, locating casualties trapped in a range of scenarios.
“You don’t really know if you can do this work, until you do it. Serve On’s #FakeQuake process provided me with the experience and resilience I needed to draw on during my first earthquake deployment,” said Clare Gollop, Exercise Coordinator. “It’s been a real privilege to prepare this exercise, which is being supported by hundreds of volunteers from different agencies, groups and some other international USAR teams. By sharing the #FakeQuake story, we want to help people understand what an international rescue team do and how they help those in need on the ground.”
Pete Old, Serve On Director added “This exercise has been in the planning for nearly 6 months, weaving a complex group of role-players and venues together, and making sure the team are as ready as they can be. The team have been on standby for the real disasters that have occurred this week, and our first thoughts are with the affected communities, as well as the rescuers and governments responding. At the moment, the affected countries have said there is no requirement for additional international teams to respond, so the next best thing we can do is to carry out this exercise to ensure we are ready when needed. We will of course be liaising with the UN throughout and are ready to divert the team if the situation changes.”