Red Deer County search and rescue experts share skills in Malta

Canadian International Rescue Organization members recently returned from fourth trip to Malta.

Red Deer County firefighters took their expertise to Malta earlier this month.

Ric Henderson, assistant county manager, said he and four others from the county, who are part of the Canadian International Rescue Organization, travelled to the island nation in the Mediterranean in the first week of May.

The team, which is proficient in rope, confined space, water, structural collapse and ground rescues, passed on their expertise to the local civil protection department during a week of training. They are all members of the county’s Technical Rescue Task Force.

Ground rescue methods were followed by technical search training, using thermal cameras and a Delsar listening device that allows rescuers to hear the faint signs of someone trapped under rubble.

“They have an urban and search rescue team, which is the collapsed building kind of stuff,” said Henderson. “They have a camera but they don’t have the acoustic (equipment) that we have.

“So we took that along and showed them how to use it. They are looking at getting that down the road.”

Henderson said these kinds of training trips are mutually beneficial.

“Every time we go and teach something, we’re always learning.

“We’re learning different things they do and how they improvise some things because they are not a highly funded department,” he said.

“Just being able to share our knowledge and expertise with people around the world is great.”

Red Deer does not seem the logical place to turn for search and rescue help for a small island like Malta.

However, the connection was made between a local search and rescue volunteer and a group out of Malta at a conference in Italy about four years ago.

This latest trip was the fourth time a Red Deer contingent has been to Malta.

In February, Henderson and four others went to Malta and was named officers of merit by St. Lazarus of Jerusalem, an organization that sponsors the Emergency Response Rescue Corps on the island.

“So we got this medal and a certificate and it was a big fancy ceremony,” he said.

While there, they took the opportunity to help train firefighters from Malta and some of the nearby smaller islands.

While the county has provided some funding in the past, all five of the Red Deer team paid their own way and the most recent trip — more than $2,000 per person

“To travel around the world and be able to share things and learn things it’s a great opportunity. We thrive on that.”

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