So How Was Your Bank Holiday?

 Sderve On International Response Team recruits learning life-saving lessons in the classroom.

Sderve On International Response Team recruits learning life-saving lessons in the classroom.

The hottest early May bank holiday weekend on record didn’t stop Serve On’s International Response Team recruits knuckling down to some valuable training.

With a long working week already behind them, and when others might have been winding down ready for a relaxing break, our brilliant volunteers were in the classroom on Friday night researching natural disasters and learning about the personal protective equipment and other kit that will keep them safe and operational in the toughest of conditions.

 Serve On volunteers construct their Base of Operations BoO after 2am.

Serve On volunteers construct their Base of Operations BoO after 2am.

At 2am, when most of the country was comfortably tucked up in bed, the recruits were out in the field, setting up the tents of their Base of Operation (BoO) and, for those hardy few, it was anything but a scorcher as night time temperatures plummeted.

They were up again at 6am to be back in the classroom for 7am and lessons on United Nations systems, the anatomy of a disaster, the deployment of an International USAR team and an introduction to the Regional Disaster Coordinator concept.

 Rab teaching the Serve On International Response Team recruits about casualty markings.

Rab teaching the Serve On International Response Team recruits about casualty markings.

More instruction followed on BoO routines, international communications and dealing with Local Emergency Management Authorities (LEMA) and the On-Site Operations Coordination Centre (OSOCC).

As the temperature soared outside, they found their way round to doing some navigation theory and when the recruits did escape the classroom into the sunshine it was to put some of those navigation lessons into practice around Serve On’s Chilmark training area.

 Ian instructing the Serve On International Response Team recruits on stretcher work and casualty handling.

Ian instructing the Serve On International Response Team recruits on stretcher work and casualty handling.

Next up came some theory and practice on casualty handling and stretchers.

As the glorious sunshine faded to dusk and then nightfall, the recruits were out and about on the training area once more, using their search lessons they had been given to try to locate mass casualties in the difficult terrain, carry out primary surveys on the ‘victims’ they found and then extract the casualties on stretchers back to their BoO.

 Serve On International Response Team recruits getting a 'casualty' on to a stretcher following a night search during a mass casualty exercise.

Serve On International Response Team recruits getting a 'casualty' on to a stretcher following a night search during a mass casualty exercise.

After finally getting into their sleeping bags after midnight, they were up again at dawn to pack up the BoO and return to the classroom for more lessons, and still they managed to be grateful to Rab, Ian, Sarah, Craig, Guy, Garry, Nick, Pete and Pete for a great weekend’s training.

The idyllic scene early on Sunday morning was captured by Steve Pickering, who was clearly awake because he was on stag duty at the time or because he found it too unnerving having more than four hours’ sleep on a Serve On training weekend.

 Dawn over the Serve On International Response Team BoO at the Chilmark training ground

Dawn over the Serve On International Response Team BoO at the Chilmark training ground

Meanwhile,a few of the dog team had headed to Exeter to have some fun on rubble piles and simulated collapsed buildings to trial their K9s who are training for international work.

 Members of Serve On's dog team and their K9 partners headed to the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service facility at Clyast St George to practice on 'collapsed buildings'

Members of Serve On's dog team and their K9 partners headed to the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service facility at Clyast St George to practice on 'collapsed buildings'

Other dog team members headed into local woodlands to focus on longer searches, wider distances and 'alternative' casualty hiding spots (such as up a tree) 

So how relaxing was YOUR bank holiday?

Our volunteers can’t give the disaster response they train so hard for without your help to pay for equipment and flights, so please donate if you can. https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/4880#/DonationDetails