Less than 24 hours after the devastating earthquake in Turkey, the first aid workers from the German aid organization @fire were on the ground on Monday. With a total of 38 emergency personnel and three rescue dogs, the team in the town of Kahramanmaraş was busy non-stop searching and rescuing buried victims and assisting in the coordination of international aid. Five people were rescued and extricated from the wreckage by the classified Light USAR team. On Sunday, the search and rescue team returned to Germany.
“Five lives saved is an overwhelming summary of our mission,” said Florian Zonker, who co-led the team with Johannes Gust. “That’s when you know what you’ve been practicing for all these years and putting countless hours into preparing for.” “Da weiß man, wofür man die ganzen Jahre geübt und unzählige Stunden in die Vorbereitung investitiert hat.” “We did far more than was expected of us as a Light USAR team,” adds Johannes Gust. “Our deployment is designed to last five days; we have now been deployed for seven days.” Seven days after the earthquake, the probability of still being able to rescue people alive is very low - especially with the persistently low temperatures. More than 120 USAR teams are still on the ground for the final search and rescue efforts. In close coordination with the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC), @fire was therefore released from the mission on Saturday evening. On Sunday morning the team started their journey home.
The response team was still working on several collapsed buildings in Kahramanmaras on Saturday. Rescue dogs had struck at two collapsed houses. With technical locating equipment and additional rescue dogs, the task was to verify the suspicion. For this purpose, listening devices were used in particular - search cameras were also used to look into cavities. However, the suspicions could not be confirmed.
“Unfortunately, part of the search and rescue team’s job is also to deal with the fact that in quite a few cases they can’t help. At least then the hope remains that they can at least give the relatives some certainty about what happened to their loved ones under the rubble,” says Sebastian Hodapp.
In addition, the mission team actively supported the coordination of international aid under the umbrella of the United Nations International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG). The Reception/Departure Center (RDC) at Adana Airport was initially operated jointly with a Swiss USAR team and then independently until departure. The @fire forces there had their hands full coordinating the arrival of more than 120 international teams. We were able to hand over the RDC to an Indonesian USAR team on Saturday. Three @fire forces also provide active support in the USAR Coordination Cell (UCC) and the Sector Coordination Cell (SCC), the incident and section commanders. In addition, we provided IT equipment and supplied the SCC with an Internet connection via satellite.The 38 task forces had come together from all over Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Armenia. In the background, another 40 forces from @fire, the partner companies Jola Rent and Heavy Rescue Germany, the Hattersheim Fire Department and numerous other supporters supported the operation with logistics and home staff. The homeland staff maintained uninterrupted contact with the operations team and provided around-the-clock support in situational awareness, organization of personnel and logistics, information and communications technology, public relations, and finances.
@fire - Internationaler Katastrophenschutz Deutschland e. V. is a non-profit civil protection organization that has been providing rapid emergency aid worldwide following devastating natural disasters since 2002. Responders are specially trained in wildland firefighting (WFF) and search and rescue of buried victims after earthquakes (USAR). All of the more than 400 members are involved in national and international disaster relief on a voluntary and unpaid basis. The civil protection organization was classified as the world’s first Light USAR Team by the United Nations International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) in 2021 and operates according to international standards. Funding for operations, training, and equipment is primarily donor-funded.
Donation account 40 50 60
Bank für Sozialwirtschaft, bank code 370 205 00
IBAN: DE17 3702 0500 000113 8800 / BIC: BFSWDE33XXX
Fundraising campaign on Betterplace