Avon Fire and Rescue Service (AF&RS) have welcomed back two staff following deployment to Beirut, Lebanon.
After the explosion rocked the port of Beirut, Assistant Chief Fire Officer Rob Davis and Temple Crew Manager Sarah Hopper were mobilised alongside a team of volunteers from the UK-based charity SARAID.
Staffed entirely by volunteers and funded solely by public donations, the team worked within the UN and EU Civil Protection infrastructure assisting with the coordination and delivery of structural damage assessments and Search and Rescue.
This involved setting up and running the Damage Assessment Coordination Centre (DACC), which mobilised multiple international teams on the ground and providing a 24/7 response capability for locals in need.
The SARAID team were also able to provide rapid building assessments following the disaster, which local engineers did not have the previous experience to deal with.
This allowed for those on the ground to know when people needed quick evacuation or if people could return home safely.
Rob said: “This is just the beginning of what will be a long journey for the people of Beirut, but SARAID was able to provide key support to the Lebanese authorities.
“Visiting the country, it was easy to see just how much of an impact the explosion had on local people and what is needed to return to any form of normality.
“It was extremely challenging but rewarding work and we hope this has gone some way to supporting those locally.
“SARAID is hoping to go back in the months ahead, but that depends on your support, so if you can help in any way, please do donate. Our help is invaluable to the local people and we want to help where we can.”
Sarah added: “This was my first deployment with SARAID and I was nervous as to what we would find on arriving in-country. However, this is what we train for and the exhausting hard work was balanced by the gratitude of the locals who were overwhelmed that people would voluntarily go and help them.
“During our week in Beirut, we worked with local and government engineers, other NGOs as well as other international USAR teams. It really affirmed the reasons why I joined SARAID and the incredible teams of people we have the opportunity to work alongside.
“Our time out there has definitely helped to start the process of recovery for Beirut, but this is going to be a long road and we are now keen to get a team back out to assist with this.”
5th August: Put on standby to support
6th August: Collected supplies at flew from Heathrow. Urgent assistance identified for the Damage assessment coordination centre (DACC) upon arrival.
7th – 12th August: SARAID team coordinated 10 international teams across the area and provided a quick response team for locals saying buildings were collapsing
13th August: Arrived back in the UK
Team in isolation for two weeks
To donate to SARIAD, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/saraid-beirut or you can support by joining the SARIAD10k - https://www.letsdothis.com/gb/e/saraid10k-the-search-rescue-run-187903