IMRF Rescue, Training Mission a Success
More than 1,000 people have been rescued using the search and rescue vessel Minden which has completed its mission in the Aegean following co-operation between the German search and rescue (SAR) service (DGzRS), the Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG) and the Hellenic Rescue Team (HRT).
As well as undertaking rescues, DGzRS has been assisting the local HRT volunteers with training and support, as part of the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) ‘members assisting members’ program.
Since March of this year the DGzRS, and the lifeguards of the Deutche Lebens-Rettungs-Gesellschaft (DLRG), the German Life Saving Association, have rescued 1138 people from distress, including 202 children.
“Training by our German colleagues was very important for our future missions,” said HRT volunteer Christopher Tsagkaridis. Training topics included search and rescue methods, mission coordination and first aid.
“The outcome of this cooperation was that the Hellenic Rescue Team assimilated methods of standardization and made clear that, with a good plan in training and operational procedures, we will be one step closer to the achievement of our goal - to save lives at sea,” said HRT president Giorgos Kalogeropoulos.
Since early March, 53 DGzRS sea rescuers and 23 DLRG lifeguards have completed missions on the Minden.
“They did not only rescue hundreds of people from distress, but gained experiences which they will capitalize on for their daily work back in Germany,” explained Captain Udo Helge Fox, managing director of DGzRS’ SAR service, and Chairman of the IMRF.
The Minden is a privately owned vessel purchased from the DGzRS in 2014 and made available by the German owner free of charge. Her last mission was completed on Saturday, June 4, 2016.
A number of northern European NGO’s have been working together to build the capability of the local maritime rescue service provided by the HRT. Training and equipment provided will help the volunteer service provide greater support to the national maritime SAR authority HCG, with more trained crew and boats now available on Lesvos, Chios, Samos and Kos.
Other IMRF members support in the region has included the establishment of an HRT rescue base on Chios including the provision of two rescue boats by the Dutch NGO the KNRM. Also, the development of HRT maritime rescue services on Samos with the Swedish NGO SSRS providing boats training and support, as well as training support and rescue boats on Lesvos by the U.K. Charity the RNLI.
The Norwegian volunteer rescue service RS has also provided a rescue cruiser and crew to the Frontex operation as well as securing funds to support the development of HRT through the provision of boats equipment and training.
“This has been a truly international effort” says IMRF CEO Bruce Reid. “The support for HRT by our large European NGO members has saved lives and given the local rescue services a much needed boost”
The final word goes to the head of the DGzRS, one of the planners for the IMRF support.
“We have achieved our aim: sustainable strength for our Greek colleagues. Now they can discharge their duty by themselves – well trained and well-resourced to face the future challenges” said Udo Fox.
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