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28 October 2014
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Team's rapid response helps save lives
A look at some of the work of Rapid UK
Graham Payne
Rapid UK Director, Graham Payne from Okehampton

Another national disaster and a team of people from Devon prepares to travel to the scene to assist in the rescue. Graham Payne from Okehampton is the Director of the charity Rapid UK. Here's his account of some of the typical scenes the team encounters.

SEE ALSO
Rescue Team Returns From Quake Scene
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Rapid UK

Department for International Development

United Nations

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FACTS

Rapid UK's Mission Statement is:
The relief of human suffering and distress in any part of the world resulting from disaster of any kind, and the protection and preservation of human life, in particular but not exclusively, by providing suitably trained and experienced response teams free of charge upon receipt of requests for assistance.

The name "RAPID" is an acronym from "Rescue And Preparedness In Disasters"

Requests for assistance are made to RAPID UK direct from the country concerned, or via initial contact with the operational directors.
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It's May, 2003 and the South West Rescue team Rapid UK has been on yet another rescue mission.

This time the group has been working to uncover victims of the earthquake in Algiers which has claimed more than 2000 lives.

It's been a gruelling three days for the 12 members of Rapid UK flown out to help with the international rescue mission.

Lucky Survivor: A young child is helped from the rubble following the 2003 Algiers earthquake

Whilst they were there, there was the discovery of an 11 year old girl trapped under a six story building.

They worked for more than 30 hours to pull her out, but tragically she had died before they could reach her.

Despite the difficult working conditions, Rapid UK was welcomed by local people. A reaction that's not unusual as Graham Payne explains:


RAPID UK
was formed in 1995 by myself, John Holland and others who were involved in another search and rescue charity - during which time we attended earthquakes in Iran, Armenia, Georgia, Philippines, Russia, Turkey and a month of logistical work in Rwanda.

Floods in Peru
Children wading through the flooded streets of Peru

We saw the need for in-country training and awareness and the requirement for search and rescue dogs. (Although this was not something that the charity we were involved with at that time wanted to do).

Our experience has been, when assisting with disaster situations, that local people are not only grateful for assistance, but feel helpless themselves because, there's no organisation at source.

Two of the team with the all important rescue dogs

They're more than willing to volunteer their services and the most frequent question put to us was "how can we set up our own rescue team?"

Charity status:
RAPID UK originally had eight members.

To realise our aims and objectives, we had to make many phone calls, knock on quite a few doors in Government circles and continually put our hands in our pockets to finance it all – just to become recognised as a rescue, training and awareness team.

We obtained our charity status in 1996, and are now recognised as a Search and Rescue Team by the Department for International Development and the United Nations.

End graphic More about Rapid UK Go
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