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.
Survivor: A young child is helped from the rubble following
the 2003 Algiers earthquake
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:
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.
wading through the flooded streets of Peru
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.
of the team with the all important rescue dogs
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?"
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.
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.
about Rapid UK