Red Deer rescuers race against time

Two search and rescuers returned home on Tuesday after spending a full day scouring for earthquake survivors in Indonesia.

Technical search and rescue specialists Adam Beverley

Two search and rescuers returned home on Tuesday after spending a full day scouring for earthquake survivors in Indonesia.

Marcel Schur and Adam Beverley of the Red Deer-based Canadian International Rescue Organization rushed to help after a powerful earthquake, measuring 7.6 in magnitude, struck the city of Padang and obliterated several villages across western Sumatra on Sept. 30.

The pair contacted the International Rescue Corps and shortly after boarded a 30-hour flight on Oct. 1 to southeastern Asia.

They packed along necessary essentials and around $30,000 worth of equipment.

Once arriving in the city of 900,000, the men were assigned to the Swiss team of 115 rescuers and 18 search dogs. After setting up tents and having a quick nap, they began a ground search. It was 4:30 a.m.

“If there’s any chance of finding any people alive, you have to deploy and react quickly,” said Beverley.

Buildings, several stories tall, had flattened like pancakes. Schur, 49, and Beverley, 36, helped search through five buildings including a school where 20 people were believed dead.

Initially, 19 bodies were recovered from the school, but one was still missing. Volunteers were tasked to finding the girl.

“We found no life signs,” said Schur, 49.

They searched a shopping mall and as they did, families surrounded and waited to hear for any good news. But there wasn’t any.

Despite finding no one alive, the rescuers kept pressing on.

Schur and Beverley used a camera, which is attached to a rotating telescope, so they can search for signs of life within deep crevices of rubble.

They also brought a Delsor, an acoustic and seismic-searching device. With the acoustic mode, a microphone is dropped through a hole in order to listen or talk with a survivor. In Padang, the men used the seismic mode which allows them to hear noises underneath the concrete.

“We can hear a mouse walk 30 feet away,” Schur said. “It’s very sensitive.”

This is the first time both pieces of equipment were used on a live mission, not just for practice.

The Red Deer men are well-trained to know the hazards.

“We crawled into a school and went three stories beneath it,” Schur said. “It was pretty stable the way it had collapsed.”

They spent 48 hours in the disaster zone and during that time, spent eight continuous hours searching for survivors. Other time was spent in preparation and debriefing.

“It’s pretty much standard to do eight to 12-hour shifts, especially when it is 36 C and 100 per humidity,” Schur said.

None of the United Nations-led teams found any survivors.

As of Wednesday, the United Nations was reporting 704 deaths. More than 102,000 houses are severely damaged.

Schur said it’s hard to see such devastation and the impact it has on people’s lives.

“You see the terror in people’s eyes, the sadness for their families,” he said.

Schur has been with Red Deer Search and Rescue 18 years; Beverley for a decade. Members of Red Deer Search and Rescue formed CIRO about two years ago after it was found their insurance wouldn’t cover them on missions outside of Alberta.

From the time they left Red Deer to the time they returned from Indonesia, their trip totalled 126 hours.

Schur and Beverley each pay their own way. Recently, they went to Malawi where they recovered a climber’s body on a mountain.

They feel the Indonesian trip was worth it. The people were so grateful to receive help from around the world, Schur said.

Beverley said it’s great to band together with rescuers from around the world.

“It’s like a big brotherhood,” he said.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Springbrook Skate Park gets financial boost

Province approves $125,000 grant for proposed skate park

ReThink Red Deer gets thumbs up from city on pollinator barn structure

Group is hoping to get a $40,000 building grant

Team Alberta athletes arrive in Red Deer on Saturday for pre-games orientation

Excitement is building with less than a month to go, says Team Alberta spokesperson

UPDATED: STARS Lottery is back

Lacombe STARS patient tells his story

Former Red Deer man named Mr. Gay Canada

To compete in Mr. Gay World

Trudeau says politicians shouldn’t prey on Canadians’ fears

The Prime Minister was speaking at a townhall in Ontario

Olympian snowboarder Max Parrot diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Each year in Canada, approximately 900 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery accused of sexual assault, harassment

Emery denied the allegations, but a Toronto woman says she is not the only one speaking out

Asteroids are smacking Earth twice as often as before

The team counted 29 craters that were no older than 290 million years

Canada’s arrest of Huawei exec an act of ‘backstabbing,’ Chinese ambassador says

China has called Canada’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou ‘politically motivated’

In limbo: Leftover embryos challenge clinics, couples

Some are outright abandoned by people who quit paying storage fees and other couples struggle with tough decisions

Netflix rejects request to remove Lac-Megantic images from ‘Bird Box’

At least two shows on Netflix’s Canadian platform briefly use actual footage of the 2013 tragedy

Teen vaping is an epidemic: US government

E-cigarettes are now the top high-risk substance used by teenagers, outpacing cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana

‘I never said there was no collusion,’ Trump lawyer says

President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani says he has ‘never said there was no collusion’

Most Read