Five Red Deer volunteers have crossed the ocean to help rescue people from rubble in earthquake-ravaged Italy.
The five locals, including a nurse, flew to Italy’s interior at their own expense on Tuesday. While they are members of Red Deer Search and Rescue, they are undertaking the relief effort as part of the Canadian International Rescue Organization.
“I’m extremely proud of them,” said Bev Sliger, president of Red Deer Search and Rescue and a communications officer for the international rescue organization. “They have great passion and go above and beyond at all times.”
Sliger heard early on Wednesday that brothers Marcel and Jamie Schur, Shawn Hare, Steve Dickin and Ashley Johanson had just arrived in the mountainous region northeast of Rome where an earthquake of 6.3 magnitude hit on Monday.
With 260 people dead and injured individuals still being pulled from the ruins, the five Red Deer citizens are prepared to do whatever’s needed to help out, said Sliger.
They brought with them telescopic cameras on bendable arms that can be adjusted to view around obstructions. “You can hand adjust it to see what you want to see,” said Sliger, who added these cameras help locate people buried under fallen rubble.
The Red Deer crew also brought sleeping mats, a water filtration system and army food rations so they can be self-sufficient at the disaster scene.
Sliger said the Schur brothers are formerly with the military and have thousands of hours of rescue training, as does Hare. She believes all three provided assistance during the Pine Lake Tornado. “There’s the excitement and adrenaline of it . . . and they have big hearts,” said Sliger.
Johanson, a nurse, has done international volunteer work with Doctors Without Borders, which provides medical assistance in war zones. The youngest volunteer, Dickin, in his early 20s, recently took search and rescue training in Texas.
Sliger said the volunteers usually plan to stay 14 days, but could return home sooner, depending on need.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Red Cross started an appeal for donations for the people of central Italy. “We’ve just been asked . . . to start collecting,” said branch manager Rhonda Schwab, who noted earthquake victims need clean water, food, shelter and medication.
Donations can be made at the local Red Cross office at 3030-55th Street, Red Deer, or by phone by calling 403-346-1241.
It’s not believed any local citizens have relatives in the devastated area.