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 2018 Conference – ICESAR

October 18, 2018 in General by Administrator

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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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).

Migration and Refugee crisis in Greece

April 5, 2016 in Humanitarian Aid by Administrator

Over the past seven months, since September 2015, volunteers of the Elite Special Task Force Greece (EP.OM.E.A) have provided their assistance in this difficult situation that both Greece and the refugees are facing.

Initially, upon assistance request, EP.OM.E.A. worked at Skala Sykamias on the island of Lesvos, with the support of the region of Thessaloniki, and operated in emergency units as set up by Doctor Andreas Iliadis (a paediatrician from Patra) with the assistance of Georgios Roumeliotis (President of EP.OM.E.A. Egaleo), on a daily basis for one month. The EP.OM.E.A. team that reached Lesvos island consisted of fifteen (15) volunteers (lifeguards, medical personnel and first aiders) who were operating on a daily basis, using a 12-meter inflatable all-weather boat and ATVs on land, as long as this could be financially possible.

Following this humanitarian activity of EP.OM.E.A., thanks to the cooperation and assistance of WAHA International and its General Secretary Dr. Sinan Khaddaj, the rescue team was registered within the strategic operation plan of the National Health Operations Centre (EKEPY) of the Ministry of Health. Thus, the rescue team started offering medical services in the refugee camps thanks to its doctors, rescuers and nurses on the Greek Islands of Lesvos and Kos, in Eidomeni, in the Baseball Stadium and in the Arrivals section of the Elliniko Camp and Elaionas Camp, where medical clinics have been set up, with sixteen (16) EP.OM.E.A. volunteers, on a daily basis. Therefore, EP.OM.E.A. is currently providing medical services at theses clinics for 8 to 10 hours daily, thanks to this cooperation with WAHA, the headquarters of which lie in Paris. EP.OM.E.A. thanks Dr. Sinan Khaddaj who has facilitated this cooperation.


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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Collection of Food in Aid of Serbia

July 10, 2014 in Humanitarian Aid by Administrator

For the second consecutive time, the Greek EURO SAR member, the Elite Special Task Force of Greece (EP.OM.E.A.) – branches of Thessaloniki, Aigaleo, Sintiki, Boeotia, Velo (Corinth) and Larissa – has collected various food items with the assistance of other Greek NGOs (such as KIPODA) and the general public. The Greek team took responsibility of the financial necessities to transfer the donated loads to Serbia. The donations were distributed among those in need, between Serbia, with the assistance of the Serbian Rescue Team, and Bosnia.

The Greek team would like to show its appreciation to the Serbian Rescue Team president, Mr Danilo Budimir, and to Mr John Koudouna, representative of GPA in Greece, for their cooperation. Above all, sincere thanks goes to all the EP.OM.E.A. volunteers who have for the second time showed such effort to assist those in need in the neighbouring countries. It is with each individual’s efforts that this mission was made possible.

Another similar mission will be taking place in 15 days’ time and the collected items will be sent to provide humanitarian assistance to a part of the Bulgarian community.

This mission was accomplished under the auspices of EURO SAR – The European Association of Civil Protection Volunteer Teams.

Balkan Floods Deployment – 8th June 2014

June 8, 2014 in International Deployment by Administrator

EURO SAR was established on the 10th of May 2014 with the sole aim of assisting the European and neighboring territory in the case of emergencies. Just a few days later, floods occurred in the Southeastern part of Europe, affecting Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina badly.

Immediately EURO SAR members EP.OM.E.A. (Greece), EPS SAR TEAM Portugal, Edelweiss Italy, CCPVC Cyprus and a prospective team member from the UK offered their assistance in rescue. As the Serbian situation unfolded, a fellow Serbian rescue team communicated the need of humanitarian aid.

The Greek team EP.OM.E.A. geared their logistical preparations in this regard and deployed to Serbia on the 29th of May. Their mission in the Serbian territory is still ongoing. Malta’s EFRU, currently holding the presidency for EURO SAR, took the responsibility for any communication among EURO SAR team members and other fellow teams.

EP.OM.E.A delpoy to Serbia

May 23, 2014 in International Deployment by Administrator

Serbian Rescue Team request assistance from EURO SAR. Good Luck EP.OM.E.A (Greece) on your first deployment as a member of EURO SAR.