Beirut Blast Response

August 10, 2020 in Humanitarian Aid, International Deployment

Following news of the state of emergency being declared after an explosion in Beirut, EVOLSAR member teams have put themselves on high alert.  When international assistance was requested by the government of Lebanon our member teams have reported to their respective governments and international bodies.

As a result, the following teams were requested to deploy to Beirut:

International emergency Firefighters (PUI), an INSARAG-qualified team from France has deployed 20 volunteers with search dogs, drones and other necessary search and medical equipment.

SARAID from United Kingdom deployed a team of 6 structural engineers and USAR operatives to provide a much-needed professional engineering and damage assessment.  Following the initial situation assessment, a second wave of five (5) volunteers was deployed to Beirut.

Other teams remained on standby. During the state of alert SAR-TEAM from Portugal took an opportunity to simulate deployment to international disaster and exercised mobilization of its personnel.

Deployed teams continuously provide in-depth information from the disaster area to other member teams, which will definitely help to reinforce professional standard of all teams. Experience that they bring home will be disseminated to others during joint exercises organized by EVOLSAR.

As an example of such results of EVOLSAR’s continuous efforts is the fact that upon arrival SARAID was asked to work alongside another volunteer firefighter team – @fire from Germany. These two teams have already learnt how to work together during previous collaboration between the teams and also during one EVOLSAR simulation.

All of the above shows that EVOLSAR is on the right path to bring together volunteer rescue organizations from all over Europe to strengthen them through unity and multi-disciplinary training.

Above all, the main goal of all our members is to provide relief to affected populations quicker, in bigger numbers and on at professional standards. Our thought and prayers go to the people of Lebanon.


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CASCADE’19 – Portugal

June 10, 2019 in Exercise Simulation

EVOLSAR founder members SAR Team, together with EVOLSAR members BV Peniche and prospective members BV Moscavide (who will be joining EVOLSAR in May 2019) will be participating in an international rescue exercise – CASCADE’19. The simulation is a European Civil Protection Exercise being held in Portugal between the 29 of May and 1st of June 2019.

CASCADE’19 is being organized by the Portuguese Civil Protection Authority in collaboration with the Directorate-General of the Maritime Authority and co-financed by European Union in the framework of the Civil Protection Mechanism. More than 600 rescuers from Portugal and beyond will be mobilizing for this exercise which will present more than 50 difference scenarios around the districts of Lisbon, Aveiro, Évora and Setúbal.

Good Luck to all the rescuers involved!




RECOVERY 2019 – Italy

May 26, 2019 in Exercise Simulation, International Deployment

Recovery 2019, organised by the Italian team, Angeli Della Sila, saw the participation of volunteer rescue teams from around Europe to train together in preparedness for rapid response in catastrophic emergencies, through #EVOLSAR.


The Simex Series #2019 – UK

May 17, 2019 in Exercise Simulation

The Simex Series #2019 – a large scale rescue Simulation in the UK.

#EVOLSAR participated as one team composed of professionally #trained #rescuers from 6 different #European #Voluntary #Rescue #Teamswhile 2 #UKteams, also part of EVOLSAR, operated at the National level of this #Simulation.

EVOLSAR article on UK Emergency Services Times Magazine

April 30, 2019 in General

The UK Emergency Services Times Magazine (April 2019 edition) publishes an article about #EVOLSAR. Thanks #BrodenMedia and #SARAID.

Article (page 59) written by EVOLSAR’s President and EFRU Director, Ivan Barbara.


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SIMULEX19 – Malta

March 13, 2019 in Exercise Simulation

SIMULEX19 – a 24-hour rescue simulation organized by one of EVOLSAR’s founder members the Emergency Fire & Rescue Unit (#EFRU) was concluded successfully yesterday, 10th February at 1000hrs.

The exercise simulated an #earthquake in the Maltese islands, with #Maltese and #foreign rescuers working together to #rescue #victims from different locations. By the end of the exercise, 25 victims had been identified and #rescued successfully using Urban Search and Rescue (#USAR) andrope rescue techniques.

All participating teams, hailing from Malta, Italy, Portugal, UK, Greece, Cyprus, Hungary and France are members of #EVOLSAR.

EVOLSAR is currently made up of fifteen member teams from ten different countries. In spite of speaking different languages, the volunteer rescuers are working together, combining their efforts in effective teamwork to refine their skills to be able to assist whenever and wherever they are needed. Through this simulation exercise in Malta, the member teams will be able to support the Maltese authorities in case of a local disaster.



SARTEAM responds to a Helicopter crash in Valongo

January 19, 2019 in International Deployment

On December 15th, in 2018, SARTEAM was called to intervene and provide emergency assistance following the disappearance and possible crash of a helicopter in the mountainous region of Valongo, Portugal.

SARTEAM deployed four of its vehicles together with sixteen trained rescuers during this emergency.

This deployment involved a search along a wide mountainous area during strong rainfall with poor visibility due to the heavy fog. After four hours of continuous search efforts, the team located the wreckage of the aircraft whereby, unfortunately, the four crew / passengers were found to be deceased as a result of the crash.

This operation was very complex in terms of technical search because of the complex mountain region where it was carried out. The area has an intricate network of underground caves with vertical open accesses that presented serious fall hazards to the rescue operatives.

Francisco Rocha
SARTEAM Commander

Editor’s Comment:
SARTEAM is the lead member team of EVOLSAR in Portugal. It is commanded by Francisco Rocha, a highly experienced technical rescuer in various rescue disciplines.


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December 2, 2018 in Exercise Simulation

SAR DAY is an annual event that brings together national and international special rescue teams to train together.  This year, SAR DAY 2018’s objective was to train rescuers in a situation similar to that which occurred in Thailand relating to a cave rescue. All possible difficulties were simulated, from the great operational and logistical challenges, communication inside the cave, water pumping and cave diving. There were over 150 operational participants in this edition, operating as part of specialized teams in cave rescue, within the participant national authorities as well as part of local and federal speleologists.

The simulation exercised the application of voice communication and transfer of images from the interior of the cave to the whole world via WEB, which demonstrated the capacity of present-day communication systems and how these can be put to use during rescue scenarios.

Despite that it became clear that this specific field (rescue in speleology) is not well established within the international rescue community, a point that was raised directly by SAR DAY 2018 participants, the exercise was another positive and successful one.

Francisco Rocha
SARTEAM Commander

Editor’s comment:
SAR DAY is organised on an annual basis by SARTEAM, a volunteer rescue team based in Portugal.  SARTEAM is the lead team for Portugal within EVOLSAR.

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October 30, 2018 in Exercise Simulation

In October 2018, a large scale exercise was held in Budapest involving over 150 volunteer and professional USAR, First Aid, K9, rope rescuers, firefighters from the Budapest Rescue Union member organizations.  EVOLSAR teams were invited to participate through the Hungarian EVOLSAR member team – OPVE – which organized and ran the exercise in cooperation with Budapest Capital Directorate for Civil Protection.

This 2-day exercise simulated major urban search operations at two separate locations, each with numerous work sites.  Rescue teams operated from and returned to Budapest Rescue Union base. Besides prepared technical scenes of different levels of difficulty, requiring varied search and rescue skills (e.g. live fire, bridge collapse with 10 vehicles with passengers inside, confined space, rubble, etc…), specially trained Red Cross members simulated live victims during the exercise. Altogether, more than 40 live victims were found, received first aid and were transported to ambulances, as part of this simulation. 

On behalf of EVOLSAR, Edelweiss (IT), EFRU (MT) and Bombeiros Voluntários de Peniche (PT) teams have sent trained rescuers to the exercise, while RSHC of Serbia (which is not part of EVOLSAR but networks often with EVOLSAR teams) has sent a team of observers. EVOLSAR teams were directed to work both as part of the already assembled Hungarian rescue teams and later, as a separate task force with Hungarian rescuers providing LEMA assistance.

Hungarian official Civil Protection authorities have declared the exercise a successful one with no injuries.  OPVE and EVOLSAR have gained valuable experience which will allow EVOLSAR to improve its rapid reaction capability in the future in support of European emergencies in particular.

Denis Lev
International Coordinator for OPVE (Hungary)

Editor’s comment:
OPVE is the lead team for Hungary within EVOLSAR.


Rescue 2018 Conference – ICESAR

October 18, 2018 in General

A team of six EVOLSAR delegates, rescuers from two EVOLSAR member teams, namely the Emergency Fire & Rescue Unit (EFRU) of Malta and the Associação Humanitária dos Bombeiros Voluntários de Peniche (AHBVP) of Portugal made its way to Iceland this October.  Its mission was to attend the much awaited biennial rescue conference, Rescue 2018 as organised by the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue (ICE-SAR), at the Harpa Conference Centre in Rejkjavik.  The conference ran over three days (12th to 14th October) and consisted of circa 50 lectures spanning over a variety of interesting subjects, including incident management, technical insights specific to the medical, rope rescue and other specialist areas of rescue, as well as retrospective insights into real but past scenarios.

This conference exposed our EVOLSAR delegates to several detailed and technical discussions that were either led by academics in the respective fields or alternatively, by experts who became so, thanks to long years of experience of operations in specialist rescue activities.  Moreover, during the conference days, various specialist equipment suppliers set up shop in the foyers around the conference halls to showcase high end rescue equipment and latest personal protective equipment.  This enabled visitors to see, first hand, equipment specifically intended for rescue purposes and how the latest technology makes it so fit-for-purpose.

Another pleasant aspect of the conference was a networking dinner held at the much acclaimed Blue Lagoon, in Grindavík.  Attendees had the opportunity of dipping into the welcoming geothermal bath, to appreciate an aspect of the beauty that Iceland offers. This gave more opportunity to conference attendees, coming from various places around Europe, American states and Canada to interact socially and establish new contacts for collaboration in the field of rescue and first response.

A very enriching experience indeed.  Attendance to the conference has positively broadened the horizons of thought of the EVOLSAR attendees who look forward to the next edition of this event.

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