NVFC Chair Participates in International Search and Rescue Training Exercise and Conference

National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) Chair Kevin D. Quinn traveled to Malta in May for the Emergency Fire and Rescue Unit’s (EFRU) multinational conference, “The Volunteer Rescuer – A Unified Approach.” The two-day event brought together volunteer search and rescue teams from 14 countries to work together in search and rescue training, share best practices, streamline methods of preparedness, and facilitate interoperability among teams from different countries.

Team USA consisted of Kevin D. Quinn,
Margaret Strozyk-Hays, and John Haven. The personal protective uniforms were donated by TECGEN and Fire-Dex.

Twenty-four volunteer rescue teams gathered in Malta to participate in conference sessions as well as training simulations for urban search and rescue, cliff rescue, and high angle rescue. Participating teams came from Austria, Cyprus, Greece, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The U.S. team was made up of Quinn; John Haven, Executive Director of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine and UF VETS Disaster Response Team Leader; and Margaret Strozyk-Hays, Rescue Technician with Clatsop County Oregon HART and SAR, Firefighter/EMT for Hamlet Rural Volunteer Fire Department and Mid Columbia Fire and Rescue, and Forest Officer with Oregon Department of Forestry.

“International training events such as this are critical to enhancing the skills, knowledge, and understanding among the global fire and rescue community,” said Quinn. “Teams from all over work together as one unit to achieve the goals of the mission and to share best practices and innovative techniques from which we all benefit. I am grateful to have participated in this and other EVOLSAR trainings to further these multi-national partnerships and develop cohesive training materials.”

The event was the culmination of a two-year project funded by the Erasmus+ KA2 Strategic Partnerships. Five transnational meetings were held between November 2015 and January 2017, with the final meeting being held in Malta on May 12-13, 2017. The result of the meetings and trainings is the development of the publication Rescue Techniques for Emergency Response – An Introductory Manual for European Volunteer Rescuers, which provides a set of recue-related guidelines to volunteer teams that are members of EVOLSAR (European Association of Civil Protection Volunteer Teams). The manual covers basic rescue, collapsed structure rescue, rope rescue, water and flood rescue, and wildfire response.

The Malta training also featured a public event that demonstrated the work EFRU and EVOLSAR are doing in an effort to save lives. Members of the public and invited guests were able to participate in zip lines, learn CPR, and participate in fire extinguisher demonstrations, thanks to participation from the local Civil Protection Department.

The NVFC thanks the EFRU, EVOLSAR, and all those who helped plan and implement the conference and training exercise. Special thanks to TECGEN and Fire-Dex for donating the personal protective uniforms to Team USA.