UK Aid Delivery Saving Lives in Moldova

Wed 09, Nov, 2016

Following successful aid deliveries in 2014 and 2015, an alliance of UK organisations have continued their effective partnership to deliver fire and rescue aid to the Republic of Moldova. 

Following successful aid deliveries in 2014 and 2015, an alliance of UK organisations have continued their effective partnership to deliver fire and rescue aid to the Republic of Moldova – a country with limited fire and rescue capability and the third highest road fatality rate in Europe. In 2016 FIRE AID founding members Operation Florian, EASST and UKRO have continued to support one of the poorest countries in the region – providing emergency services with the equipment and skills to save life via fire appliance and equipment donations, training, and establishment of the rescue challenge competition by UKRO.

Multi-agency road traffic collision exercise

In April-May 2016, 4 fire appliances from East Sussex FRS and West Sussex FRS equipped with RTC rescue tools from South Yorkshire FRS and other life saving equipment from many other fire and rescue services were donated by Operation Florian to the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Situations Service (CPESS) of Moldova, accompanied by a 2 week training period delivered by Florian’s volunteer instructors in immediate trauma care, a casualty centred approach to road traffic collisions, driver training, and pumps and ladder operations.  

At the training centre in the north of Moldova in Balti

A team of 35 people participated in the complex project delivery within Moldova over a period of 3 weeks, with many other volunteers involved in the preparation phase back in the UK. Volunteers and equipment were recruited and sourced from across the UK including: East Sussex FRS, West Sussex FRS, South Yorkshire FRS, Kent FRS, Surrey FRS, Mid and West Wales FRS, Greater Manchester FRS, Buckinghamshire FRS, Cambridgeshire FRS, Toyota Europe, Vimpex, Mfc Survival by Respirex, and BrightKidz, all of whom receive our thanks for their invaluable contribution.   

The 2016 convoy

For the convoy team, ably led by Florian’s Alan Smith, the journey started on 25th April at Crowborough Fire Station where the 14-strong team of driving volunteers began their journey across Europe. With some adventures along the way, and the usual excellent hospitality and accomadation from our friends at Wiener Neudorf fire station in Austria, the intrepid convoy team arrived safely at the Romania-Moldova border crossing point of Sculeni on 28th April after travelling some 1,600 miles through 8 countries.

Following safe arrival of the convoy and preparation and transportation of the vehicles and equipment within Moldova, the two week instruction phase began, ensuring safe and sustainable use of the donated equipment for all crews and stations receiving aid. A team of 12 RTC and Trauma instructors were split to training venues in the north and south of the country. Eight instructors delivered training for firefighters from Falesti, Vadul lui Voda, and Riscani at the training location of Balti in the north of Moldova.  

Training in Ceadir-Lunga

Whilst a team of 4 instructors delivered training for firefighters in Ceadir-Lunga in the region of Gagauzia in the south. Training included use of the Toyota Europe Transformer Car – a reusable vehicle for road traffic collision rescue training, which can be dismantled to create a variety of space creation techniques such as glass removal, roof and door removal, dash lift, B pillar fold and removal – of great value to countries such as Moldova where scrap cars for training are costly and the quality unrealistic. The donated appliances are now operational in Ceadir-Lunga, Falesti, Vadul lui Voda, and Riscani – responding to road traffic collisions, fires and other incidents.

Firefighters were joined by their colleagues from the police and ambulance services at both training locations for instruction and discussion on RTC scene management and first aid – enabling dialogue on multi-agency cooperation and procedures.

Discussing driver training with police and fire officers 

Integral to the aid delivery and its sustainability was the involvement of 3 mechanics who travelled across Moldova to deliver preventative maintenance training to appropriate crews and conducted repairs across Moldova – most welcomed by all.

Some 60 Moldovan emergency personnel received training, marked by an official pass out parade in Balti on 13th May where a multi-agency RTC demonstration took place along with use of the Transformer Car, at the police station in Balti. Despite the rain, this was attended by all instructors and students, members of the public, UK Ambassador Phil Batson, the USA Embassy, the Deputy Minister for the Interior of Moldova Veaceslav Ceban, and senior representatives of the Dept for CPESS of Moldova, who were treated to an number of practical demonstrations by firefighters, police and ambulance personnel and music by the police service brass band. Ambassador Batson spoke about the impact of the work being delivered and how its effectiveness is built by the time spent by the UK team in-country and the strong relationships built by the charities involved. Keys for fire engines destined for use in Ceadir-Lunga, Riscani, Falasti, and Vadul lui Voda were officially handed to crews and all students received certificates in recognition of the skills learnt.

Ambassador Batson hands over keys to the fire appliances

In both Balti and Ceadir-Lunga, local schools were visited by the team who delivering fire and road safety messages to children of primary and secondary school ages as well as hands on demonstrations of the UK fire engines – much loved by the children.

School visit in Ceadir-Lunga

This ongoing project contributes to the aims of both the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-20 by improving the capabilities of responders and therefore increasing the chance of survival during a road traffic collision, and the UNISDR Hyogo Framework for Action by building resilience and the preparedness of communities to cope with emergency situations. The project will continue to reduce incident response times as well as ensure that personnel with the right skills and the right equipment are able to save saveable lives. The ongoing cooperation between the UK and Moldova and this vital project are made possible by continued support from the US and UK Embassies in Moldova.

Details of the UK Rescue Organisation 2016 Rescue Challenge in Moldova can be found here

Operation Florian Director and retired Principal Fire Officer, Bruce Hoad said:

“When we call 999, we expect a modern fire engine with the latest firefighting equipment to arrive, but in Moldova there are large areas without this cover – so the support which fire services like East Sussex have given Operation Florian is vital and will save lives.

Operation Florian won’t just be delivering vehicles and tools but also vital training for firefghters in Moldova to use the equipment safely and efficiently, with the number one aim of reducing the high number of deaths on their roads.

The delivery of this fire equipment which is no longer used in the UK, is a precious gift of life to people in Moldova – where poverty and political turmoil mean that the fire services we take for granted here, are all too scarce over there.”

Photo credits: UK Embassy, Dept for CPESS, EASST, Operation Florian


Further photos and media links can be found on the CPESS Facebook page: