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Emergency services in MND-Southwest

By Maj. Marie Richter
First published in
SFOR Informer#120, August 22, 2001

Most soldiers in MND - SW are lucky enough not to have been involved in an accident or a fire, but if they had, then they would have to thank SFOR’s Emergency Services for providing the immediate response that was needed. SFOR Informer took a closer look at just two of the many teams who remain on standby ready to react to whatever situation arises.

Sipovo - In Sipovo Barracks, amongst all the ‘Green Fleet’ a bright red fire engine stood out for all to see. A team of five fire fighters were busy working, some checking safety equipment, some checking hoses, and others working on the renovation of a ‘Coventry Climas’ trailer pump to donate to the local emergency fire service. The team splits into two halves, red watch and blue watch, each crew covering alternate 24 hour shifts, seven days of the week. Their primary task is to provide a fire service to Sipovo Barracks, which contains a hospital, many offices and accommodation for SFOR troops. All of the Red crew are British, civilian fire fighters who have volunteered for 6 months, (two are from Middle Wallop, two from Coineton and one from Watersham). Leading Fire Fighter Colin Bailey spoke about their role; “we are here for SFOR assistance only and would have to ask permission to assist in a civilian fire as this would leave the barracks without protection. We are also part of Immediate Response Team (IRT), we have heavy cutting tools and can assist the medics in road traffic accidents, etc. if casualties need to be cut out.”
Assistance to local fire team
They have spent the last few months, when not busy, renovating a water pump which they have now donated to the fire fighters of Sipovo (donated 4 August at Sipovo fete). They have an excellent rapport with their local counterparts, all of whom are experienced but lack the necessary equipment to do their job to their best ability. In 1996 Hampshire Fire Service donated a fire engine to Sipovo enabling the fire station to re-open, and now they have the new pump to compliment it.
Immediate Response Team
Just one hundred yards away the IRT for MND - SW are situated, again maintaining and checking their equipment. The team provides emergency medical assistance via a Cougar helicopter, ‘Wild Cat zero one’, throughout the MND often with a much faster response time than the ambulances. They have the capability to take de-miners or fire crews with them along with the usual doctor, nurse, loadmaster and two pilots, depending on the incident. They are part of a Dutch detachment based in Split who rotate every week providing one helicopter and crew for 24 hours a day cover. The helicopter is fitted to take one stretcher patient normally and contains medical equipment for full resuscitation, monitoring and stabilisation of the casualty during the journey. There is not much room for the medical crew, all of whom have to work kneeling down, and if they have to take two casualties on board then space is very tight, not for the claustrophobic! Recently they have provided urgent transport for a civilian who had experienced a heart attack and needed evacuation to the hospital in Banja Luka, this is not their primary role but they were happy to assist.
Training Demonstrations
Often the crew give demonstrations to SFOR forces in MND - SW not just as a display but to train all the soldiers about what to do if they call the IRT to an incident. IRT Commander spoke about the demonstrations, “everyone needs to know what type of ground the helicopter can land on and be able to find an appropriate place and mark it. Also they need to be able to give the correct relevant information when requesting our assistance so that we can come appropriately prepared.”

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: UK,
SFOR at Work, Training and Exercises