Leicester firefighter, Ian Nuttall, has just returned from a five-week Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship in America in which he spent time working with LA County Fire Department's California Task Force, the Fire Department New York and several other government agencies and military units.

During that time, he learnt how these types of major bodies both plan for and deal with large-scale disasters like Hurricane Irene or 9/11.

The 31 year-old, who is a member of UK Fire and Rescue Service's volunteer International Search and Rescue team, says he was heartened by what he found.

"It is encouragaing to know as a rescuer that the skills we have in the UK are parallel with those of US search and rescue teams," said Ian.

One of the most emotional parts of the trip for Ian was taking part in a private memorial service held on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy.

Ian said: "I'd spent a day riding with the crews from FDNY Rescue 1, picking up tips on how they deal with emergency situations.

"Most of them knew guys who died [on 9/11] so when I was invited to attend the service, I felt very honoured.

"There was lots of media interest in the commemoration events, so to be invited to a private service for the guys and their families was a great privilege and very humbling indeed."

The firefighter, who has a diploma in Specialist Rescue, was called into action earlier this year when he was sent out to work 12 hour days in Christchurch in the aftermath of the 6.3 magnitude earthquake.

Whatever the next disaster is that he's sent to help with, Ian feels he is now even more prepared.

"Professionally I learnt some new techniques and was introduced to a range of difficulties rescuers encounter in every type of incident," he said.

"However, it's the conversations with firefighters that have been most useful.

"They treated me as their brother and, as 9/11 proved, some things you just can't prepare for."


Posted on September 29 2011 at 1300 by Richard. Comment by emailing: richard.hook@pavpub.com