Beirut Blast Response

August 10, 2020 in Humanitarian Aid, International Deployment by Administrator

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 by Administrator

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 by Administrator

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 by Administrator

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.

SIMULEX19 – Malta

March 13, 2019 in Exercise Simulation by Administrator

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 by Administrator

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 by Administrator

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 by Administrator

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 2016 – Edelweiss

May 15, 2016 in Exercise Simulation by Administrator

The 22nd of April 2016 marked another important achievement in the EVOLSAR calendar during a training weekend organized by the Italian member team ‘Edelweiss’.

The event saw rescuers from all of the six (6) member teams of EVOLSAR, as well as another six (6) countries, represented by volunteer rescue teams that aspire to join or work with the organization in the near future. A twelve (12) hour, full scale rescue simulation gave the volunteer rescuers another opportunity to work together and experience interoperability in the different scenarios as prepared by the Italians. Such scenarios included confined space rescues, rescue from heights, mass casualty rescues and, for the first time, a rescue operation from the fourth floor of an operational hospital in Soverato which had to be conducted in the shortest and most discrete way possible. Other than the simulations, a number of workshops were organized for the participant rescuers while presentations were held by Petzl, the Hungarian Team ‘Central Buda – Volunteer Civil Protection Association’ which officially accessed EVOLSAR as a member team during the same weekend. New teams from Spain & Portugal presented an overview of their organisation to EVOLSAR. An interesting highlight was an experience shared by ‘Serve On’, the British team member, who shared a bitter sweet experience during one of their deployments in Pakistan.
In the words of Mr. Pasquale Pipicelli, president of Edelweiss, this training weekend was worth every every second of preparation as it was a total success in every way. Mr. Pipicelli thanked everyone present during the closing ceremony, the government officials who visited the event, Edelweiss’ sponsors and most of all each and every active member of Edelweiss, who gave up so much of their time during the past months for the successful outcome of this exercise.

This three day event included meetings as part of the Erasmus+ KA2 project entitled ‘Synergising European Volunteers Rescue Teams – A Rescue Operations Manual’ led by the Maltese rescue team the Emergency Fire & Rescue Unit (EFRU).


November 15, 2015 in Exercise Simulation by Administrator

SAR DayThis is the disaster area that has been set up by our own Portuguese Team Escola Portuguesa de Salvamento. The joint training exercise entitled ‘SAR DAY’ will see all themembers of EVOLSAR work together once again in 2015 with the aim of standardising the rescue techniques adapted by the organisation. This training is being organised in conjunction with the First Transnational Meeting of an ERMASMUS + cross-European project entitled ‘Synergising European Volunteer Rescue Teams – A Rescue Operations Manual’. This project will see the following teams participating as partner organisations: Escola Portuguesa de Salvamento (EPS Team Portugal), Edelweiss (Italy), Elite Special Task Force of Greece (EP.OM.E.A.), the Cyprus Civil Protection Volunteer Team and Serve On (UK).  Good Luck to all the volunteers who have left their families to prepare themselves to save lives when disaster strikes.

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