Essex International Search and Rescue Team join colleagues to assist with earthquake rescue mission in New Zealand

THE Essex International Search and Rescue Team have flown out to help rescue efforts in Christchurch, New Zealand, following the devastating earthquake which hit the city earlier this week.

The team of six flew out from Heathrow yesterday evening (Wednesday) and are due to arrive in New Zealand tonight (GMT).

They were:

Assistant Divisional Officer Rudy Jackson - Service Headquarters, Kelvedon

Firefighter Mark Sladden - USAR-Lexden

Station Officer Terry Jewell - USAR Station Commander-Lexden

Station Officer Len Cleary - Loughton Fire Station

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Sub Officer Gary Wootton - Harlow Fire Station

Firefighter Nigel Golland - South Woodham Ferrers Fire Station

Speaking before the team left the UK, co-ordinator Terry Jewell said: “The team have trained for this and have experience with incidents of this nature. We carry out many exercises in scenarios exactly like that which we will find in New Zealand.

“This will be very different from the work we did in Indonesia, we know how many people we are searching for and we have our sectors assigned to us so we will hit the ground running.

“The entire team have the training and equipment to deal with urban catastrophes like this and we are pleased that we can put our skills and training to use in helping people in Christchurch.”

They joined a 60 strong team as part of the UK ISAR – a team of specialists drawn from 13 fire services who are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year ready to respond to disasters anywhere in the world.

The specialist team was initially formed in 1992 and Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) has been involved since its inception.

The ECFRS team’s primary role is one of search and rescue in collapsed structures; however, the Essex team has also invested a great deal in training and development in both water rescue and working at height.

They are the same team who went to Indonesia last October to help with rescue efforts following the earthquakes which happened there. Four of the six going from Essex were part of the rescue effort in Sumatra.