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International search and rescue team practise at the old college building
Swindon College looked as if an eathquake had hit it as volunteers completed the final part of their training.
Twelve trainees for Rescue And Preparedness In Disasters were rescuing people from the derelict building in Regent Circus yesterday as part of a realistic exercise to test their skills in saving earthquake victims.
The exercise was due to continue until midday today as the last part of their two -year training.
Gillian Dacey, one of the directing staff for RAPID UK and a member of the operations committee, said: “This is a five-day assessment exercise to test 12 trainees who are under assessment following nearly two years worth of intensive training to be able to respond to disasters abroad.
“They are being trained particularly for earthquakes but not exclusively.”
RAPID UK’s team of volunteer urban search and rescue specialists are usually deployed to disasters like the earthquake in Haiti.
A fictional earthquake struck on Tuesday evening and RAPID UK swung into action.
After mustering at the charity’s Gloucester headquarters, the team were deployed to search an area on Dartmoor, rescuing casualties from fast flowing water along the way.
From there they moved to a difficult border crossing close to Exeter.
More than 100 people were involved in helping bring the scenario to life, playing different roles to help make the event as realistic as possible.
“Once they have received a full pass from us they will be on call 24/7,” said Gillian.
“Providing the disaster requires an international response we will deploy a team,”
In 2010 the trainees were selected from 900 applicants for a place on the charity’s training programme, with backgrounds as diverse as physiotherapists, IT managers and firemen.
It takes nearly two years of regular training to develop the skills needed to work effectively in such a difficult environment, and the last five days have seen the new recruits being put to the test.
For more information visit www.rapiduk.org.uk.