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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SAR DAY 2018 – SARTEAM

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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BUDAPEST US&R 18 – OPVE

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.

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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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