The recent Nepal earthquake saw a number of UK fire and rescue staff deployed to assist in the search and rescue efforts.
Dave Ramscar gave an overview of the work and the outcomes of the deployment. he also told the conference that there has been more than150 aftershocks since the initial earthquake in April.
UKISAR works with DFID and other government departments to assist with international search and rescue work. It is made up of a number of services across the country and provides a self sufficient heavy response service, which means the team is not a burden on the host country.
More than 2.8 million people were displaced and is the largest natural disaster ever recorded in Nepal. There were four teams sent as part of the rescue effort, along with four dogs. UKISAR formed part of the United Nations plan.
Over the following days, landing permits were being negotiated at Kathmandu airport to allow more UKISAR team members into the country to assist with the work.
They set up at the British Embassy, which included pitching a number of tents there! He talked delegates through how the search is set up in different sectors, while also doing structural assessments of buildings to assess them and to see if they can be made safe. This included a hospital which was reopened a short time later to assist in the recovery, which meant surgical wards and hundreds of beds were made available.
Road conditions, land slips and aftershocks meant getting out to more remote areas was slower than the team would have liked, but once there the first aid given provided invaluable to people who had sustained injuries in the earthquake.
Helicopters were also used to reach more remote areas which meant more help for injured people who may have been missed in the week since the earthquake happened.
Once the rescue phase closed down, the teams then prepared to exit the country and awaited government clearance to return to the UK.
Following their return, observations and evaluation took place, including difficulties landing in Kathmandu, the ‘tourism tax’ the team were asked to pay when they arrived and ensuring all rescue teams were aware of which areas had been searched.
It was a fascinating overview of the work which took place and highlighted the difficulties the team faced, along with the hugely positive outcomes due to UKISAR’s work.