Wednesday, 26 March 2014

East Sussex firefighters make humanitarian trip to Moldova




Firefighters and officers from across East Sussex are joining forces with other fire services around the country to deliver four fire appliances to Moldova.

Operation Florian is a UK-based humanitarian charity, run largely, but not exclusively by serving and retired members of the Fire and Rescue Service. It delivers fire appliances throughout the world to those communities in dire need of the latest equipment, training and consultancy.

East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service firefighters form a very active part of the charity and dedicate their free time to the cause.  In recent years, they have helped to deliver aid in Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and Zimbabwe.

The latest project involves a total of twelve members of the service, three of whom have previously worked on another humanitarian project.

Thirteen volunteers from services across the United Kingdom will depart from Eastbourne on the 27th April at 9am, including the ESFRS contingent. They will drive four donated fire appliances and equipment across Europe, a trip of more than 1,700 miles, with the journey taking approximately four days.

On 3rd May a team of 15 instructors from across the country will then fly to Moldova where they will provide valuable training to firefighters from four municipalities. They will be shown how to use the fire appliance and equipment, as well as crucial first aid skills and essential road traffic collision training.

Craig Kelsall, who is the Project Manager, said: “Firefighters from East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service are passionate about supporting this charity and the work they do, as we have seen firsthand the immense impact that it has had on communities far less privileged then us. It is a very humbling experience and one that we wish to continue supporting.”

Further training will be provided to four ‘Salvatori’ or 'Saviour' units. These units are located in the Capital city, Chisinau, and in Balti, Comrat and Cahul. The Salvatori units are already specialist rescue teams, but training will be provided to up-skill their trauma care skills and their rescue capability at road traffic collisions, especially when there is the involvement of large goods vehicles and coaches.

The team will be in Moldova for two weeks and during that time training will be provided for more than 75 firefighters.

Moldova was until 1991 part of the Soviet Union and managed to achieve its independent status relatively painlessly.  Politically it is westward looking and has aspirations to join the EU.  However it has a long-running disagreement with Russia concerning the breakaway region of Transnistria, which is seeking independence from Moldova, and this dispute is seriously hindering the country’s progress.

About 1.5 times the size of Wales, and with a population of 3.6 million people, Moldova is officially recognised as the poorest country in Europe.  Its fire service is run by the Ministry of the Interior and is a well-disciplined organisation but it seriously lacks modern fire appliances and equipment.  The country’s roads are among the worst in Europe and it has an appalling road safety record.  Road crash survivability rates are less than one tenth of those in western Europe, with extended attendance times, a lack of even basic RTC equipment and training and variable trauma care standards all contributing to this shocking statistic.

Operation Florian has agreed to become part of an ambitious multi-agency project with the express intention of reducing this terrible loss of life and serious injury.  The project is being run in support of the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety which aims to save 5 million lives worldwide.  Our part in the action plan is to help improve the post-crash response by providing a number of modern, fully-equipped fire appliances, additional RTC equipment together with high quality training in both extrication techniques and casualty trauma care.

Our UK project partners are the Eastern Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Transport, a road safety charity with extensive experience in eastern Europe, and the United Kingdom Rescue Organisation.  In Moldova we are working with the emergency services, the Ministry of the Interior, the Automobile Club of Moldova, local councils and the British Embassy.


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