UK's crack response to Kashmir catastrophe.(UK Rescue Response)(Cover Story)

Following the devastating Asian earthquake, the UK's response proved valuable in saving many lives, helping hundreds of injured and evacuating thousands more. According to Operations Commander Peter Stevenson the blanket media coverage proved even more useful as the relief response from the British public (the second largest contribution to date) should help save many more lives. FIRE spoke to Pete shortly after his return

AT A RECENT RECEPTION IN Whitehall for the UK Fire and Rescue Service contingent that went out to Pakistan, Fire Minister Jim Fitzpatrick told firefighters: "The sacrifice isn't measured well enough in the media. There is a glow of pride in the UK--at a job only you can do--you're the experts and you did a fantastic job. This is a very, very, very small gesture on behalf of the British public. You should have great pride in yourselves, your fire brigades and the British Fire and Rescue Service."

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott was similarly enthused as he told FIRE: "I was immensely proud of the UK firefighters response--what was particularly impressive was the voluntary contribution and the way they all came together so impressively. We all talk about what we do, but the difference is these people go out of their way, in their own time, to respond. I was very proud of that response."

Mr Fitzpatrick pointed to the TV pictures showing the arduous task the teams faced, and commended the huge effort, sacrifice and impact the response had on the British public. It was this observation that was most pertinent: the outcome of attracting public interest can not be underestimated.

Shattered Earth

The US Geological Survey reported that a magnitude 7.6 earthquake occurred at 34.43N, 3.54E on October 8 at 0350 UTC time, 0850 local time in Pakistan. The epicentre was at 95kin NNE of Islamabad, 115km ESE of Mingaroa and 125 km WNW of Sringar Kashmir, in addition several aftershocks ranging between 5.4 and 5.9 had been reported in the first few hours following the main quake.

At 0730 (UK time) the Department for International Development (DFID) requested that on call teams were put on alert to respond. There was little information available regarding the level of devastation at this stage but there was a good possibility that it was going to be severe due to its location and shallow depth.

At 1310 DFID requested that teams mobilise to East Midlands airport for deployment which was most likely to be under a bi-lateral agreement, The UK teams departed from their own areas to East Midlands airport and booked in with West Midlands Command Support Team which had set up a reception centre at the airport and recorded the details of all personnel arriving. …

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