Rescue Team Arrives In NZ

The team of UK search and rescue specialists has arrived in New Zealand to help search for victims of the earthquake.

The UK has sent a team of sixty-one firefighters and medics in response to a request for help from the New Zealand government. An advanced party of six - including Jon Lacey from West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service - arrived in Christchurch at 0500 Thursday morning local time and were immediately briefed at the Base of Operations that has been set up for international rescue teams.

The remainder of the UK team and their equipment have landed in Auckland and are being flown urgently to Christchurch to relieve rescue teams that have been working non-stop since the earthquake struck on Monday. Hope is fading of finding further survivors but search and rescue operations are expected to continue for at least another 24hrs. The focus is on ten collapsed buildings where people are reported trapped.

The West Sussex firefighters are from the WSFRS Technical Rescue Unit. They are based at Horley Fire Stn but team members come from across West Sussex and they have previously been mobilised to earthquakes in Indonesia and Haiti. The team members on this deployment are

  •       Jon Lacey (Haywards Heath)
  •       Ian Smith (Worthing)
  •       Peter Thorpe-Hincks (Steyning)
  •       Neil Graham (Shoreham)
  •       Brian Vincent (Worthing)
  •       Rob Negus (Hove)

The West Sussex team is one of only thirteen UK fire and rescue service teams trained for overseas deployment in the event of a natural disaster. These teams are primarily funded by the government's New Dimension programme, and teams on this mission come from West Midlands, Hampshire, Leicestershire, Grampian, South Wales, Essex, and Cheshire. They use the same kit and equipment, which can lift, cut, and remove concrete and rubble from collapsed structures, along with sophisticated cameras and listening devices for finding casualties.