Leaving date 08/05/2016
Team of 4 – Jo Musgrave (project leader GMFRS), Gaz Costello (retired),
Danny Gall (Scotland FRS) and Paul Leonard (GMFRS)
The team have been working hard to prepare the fire truck for departure to Cape Verde. Many improvements were made to the vehicle to make its appearance look better i.e. bit of painting and lots of polishing.
A big thanks to red watch Ashton G39 personnel for lending a hand with the improvements.
On the 5th April the fire truck began its mammoth journey to Cape Verde by making its first trip to Felixstowe docks. After a 6 hour drive through many traffic jams it finally arrived looking very dirty, so whilst on the docks waiting for it to be booked in full advantage of the hose reel was made and the truck was jetted and cleaned ready for loading on to the ship. After a week of minor hiccup’s on the docks and the shipping company the fire truck was loaded and set sail on its 4 week journey to Praia Cape Verde.
On the 8th May the team assembled in Manchester with two members travelling hundreds of miles first just to get to Manchester (Gaz from Denmark and Danny from Scotland). After the introductions and welcomes the team set off for Manchester airport to start their 2 day Journey to Maio Cape Verde. The Journey would take them to Heathrow, Lisbon, Praia and then Maio. Four flights later and one bag lighter as it had not been put on the plane in Lisbon the team finally arrived in Maio.
Maio is one of the smallest islands in Cape Verde with a population of around 8,000 inhabitants much of which are farmers or fishermen. From a previous trip to Maio where the team had been sent out to provide first aid training it was noted that the volunteer bombeiros were in need of some equipment and some basic fire and rescue training.
On arrival in Maio the team were greeted at the airport by Chief Bombeiro Elvio who on the way to the team’s hotel gave them a small guided tour of the town Port Ingles. The streets were all cobbled buildings half built and then left, chickens, pigs, goats, dogs and donkey’s all roaming free in the streets and many locals sitting in the shade on street corners chatting and watching the world go by. Others had converted the front rooms in to shops or bars.
After checking in at the small hotel the team were then taken to the municipality to meet the President of Maio. They introduced themselves and the President welcomed them to Maio and said he hoped that a good strong partnership could be made so that in the future to provide more projects to training the bombeiros could take place. The team then went to the hotel to settle in and get themselves ready for day one training.
The team was taken to the municipality where they met all the volunteer bombeiros and introduced themselves, where they were from, how long they have in service and what skills they had etc. The group of 30 volunteers were then split into two groups. One group would be starting training on pumps and ladders the other group would start breathing apparatus training. The group who was starting pumps and ladders went to the airport where the training was going to take place the other group stayed behind to have a brief input about breathing apparatus. It was challenging to say the least trying to pass the information over through a translator but they managed and then it was off to the airport to start practical training.
The pump and ladder group where there and after a familiarisation session with the ladders, various drills took place and all the bombeiros took turns pitching the ladders. Meanwhile the BA group was introduced to a BA set and they all took turns in donning all the PPE and a BA set and going under air.
There were lots of orders and shouting from the ladder crew’s instructors, Danny and Gaz were like Sargent majors barking orders out as ladders were pitched and then the volunteers went up and down them. Ladders were being pitched to roof of the airport, to the airport control tower in fact anywhere that a ladder would go.
The BA group had started to learn about self-protection and how to move around a smoke filled compartment safely. Each volunteer bombeiro had a turn at being blind folded and searching either left hand or right hand through the engine house of the airport fire service.
The next four days the team carried out the training which was slow to start with but as the days went on got better and better. Hose was being run out and pumps introduced as well as carrying on pitching ladders and in BA the group was introduced to casualty handling techniques.
As the week went on the training became more challenging for the volunteer bombeiros with Gaz and Danny introducing branch tactics as well as pumping drills with more than one branch as well as branches to work off a ladder. Paul and Jo took their group to the disused villa close to the airport and had the bombeiros doing left hand and right hand searches through different doors as well as wearing full fire gear, BA sets and using live casualties which really did make it tough for them.
After four days of intense training and passing on as much information as possible the groups changed so that everyone got the chance to use pumps and ladders as well as training in the use of BA.
The next four days were the same as the last only the groups had changed and the team were happy with the training progress and the volunteer bombeiros took on board the training and were very enthusiastic when taking part.
On the final day the bombeiros put on a demonstration in the village so that all the locals could see what they had been learning over the last two weeks. Each volunteer bombeiro was given a task to carry out whether it was to be a part of the ladder crew to rescue casualties from the first floor or a part of the pump crew dealing two fires in the open using lay flat hose or the hose reel. Another scenario was set for two BA crews who had to search the ground and first floor of the local radio station to find casualties. Once they were found and brought outside other volunteers carried out first aid and CPR on resusi-annie mannequins and then put the casualties in an ambulance.
Once the demonstration had finished the crowd gave a loud cheer and much applause, the bombeiros felt very proud and were all very excited. Chief Elvio had everyone fall in for parade, he brought them to attention and then thanked them for their hard work over the last two weeks and thanked the team for the training. He also thanked operation Florian for their involvement and for the generous donation of the fire appliance and the equipment on it.
Elvio then had the parade fall out and then things got a little crazy people running round hi-fiving and taking lots of pictures, everyone was proud of what they had achieved over the last two weeks the atmosphere was buzzing. That night the team had a meeting with Elvio to discuss how the course had gone and what recommendations there will be going forward with the project and how training in the future can take place.
The following day the team prepared for the long journey home. Elvio picked the team up around dinner time and took them to the airport where they were to meet with the president on his way back from a meeting in Praia again to discuss how training had gone and how the president could support the volunteer bombeiros in the future. The team explained to the president that they now need a lot of support from him to develop as a fire service and was he able to offer this support, to which he replied yes. The president also asked that a strong partnership to be built between Operation Florian and Maio so that the bombeiros would benefit from more training and that Maio would be a safer place in the future especially when tourism reaches the island and it starts to grow.
The team then said their goodbyes and hoped to return at a future date to carry on the work they had been doing, boarded the plane and took off. Three plane journey’s later and a lot of time sat in airport waiting for connecting flights the team arrived safely back in Manchester.