“Emirates Today” monitored the scenes of the humanitarian mission of part of the Emirati rescue team, specifically from the Dubai police, in Operation “The Gallant Knight 2” in the Republic of Turkey, following the earthquake that struck its territory with the Syrian state early last month, leaving massive destruction in the two countries and thousands of victims.
The head of the Emirati rescue team in the Kahramanmaraş region, in Turkey, Colonel Khaled Ibrahim Al-Hammadi, revealed that the team was the first to arrive among all the international teams, and the last to leave under the directives of the country’s leadership.
Al-Hammadi told Emirates Today: “We faced complex challenges and difficult moments that were punctuated by feelings of sadness when the bodies of the victims were recovered, especially the children, including a family consisting of a father, a mother and a child who were surprised by the earthquake while they were sleeping, and they were all in a sleeping position, and the child was holding her mother’s hand.” And feelings of joy when saving people after continuous hours of work.
He confirmed that he was able to squeeze his body with difficulty into a narrow hole, to determine the situation of a Syrian family consisting of a mother and three children, when a four-storey building collapsed on them, and they were four of them on a bed, and the wall almost stuck to their faces amid painful conditions that they suffered for four days before they were successfully removed.
Dubai Police announced a state of alert immediately after the earthquake occurred, by launching the early warning system, and preparing an operations room at the Resilience Center specialized in crisis and disaster management, and preparations for the task began before the official summons from the Joint Operations Command of the Armed Forces, which managed the operation and provided exceptional equipment and support, represented in the transfer of equipment and machinery. Heavily transported by air to the affected area, so that the Emirati team was the fastest to respond, moving in less than seven hours, and the only one that shared its equipment.
In detail, the Director of the Search and Rescue Department in Dubai Police, Colonel Khaled Al Hammadi, said that the team received the official summons from the Joint Operations Command of the Armed Forces on the sixth of last February, immediately after the earthquake.
He added: «A departure hour was set for us from Abu Dhabi, so a state of alert was declared and our equipment was completed within only five hours, so that a team from Dubai consisting of 46 people from Dubai Police and the Ambulance and National Ambulance Corporation, joined the rest of the Emirati team members from Abu Dhabi and the country in general, bringing the number to 110. Individuals”.
He continued, “The Joint Operations Command made a great effort to secure the equipment that the Emirati rescue team works with, so it was transported on other planes, so that we would be the first international team to reach the Kahramanmaraş region, with its mechanisms and devices, unlike other teams that used Turkish equipment.”
He said, “The situation was catastrophic there, and the team faced very difficult challenges after defining the work area by the Turkish Disaster Management Organization (AFAD) and the specialized organizations of the United Nations. The roads were destroyed, the bridges collapsed, in addition to the terrible crowds of residents who fled their homes and gathered In the streets, ”noting that“ the journey to reach the site took more than seven hours, during which the team had to penetrate through villages and mountain passes.
He stressed that “the extreme cold was a great challenge in itself, as our men are not accustomed to this painful climate, but they immediately set to work as soon as they arrived at the site, despite the complete darkness due to the power outage, and they participated in a Turkish team in rescuing a girl from under the rubble.”
Al-Hammadi explained that “the rescue operation did not stop, as the team was divided into small teams that took turns greeting each other, and the rest period sometimes did not exceed one hour, during which we slept in cars because of the painful cold.”
He said, “The most complicated moment was the process of saving the Syrian family, which began when an elderly woman came to us telling us that she had heard a distress sound from under the rubble of a building, so we went on her signal to find a completely collapsed building, with no survivors under it.”
He added, “Our men were able to locate the source of the sound, and they heard a woman asking to be rescued with her children,” pointing out that “the difficulty of the operation was the need to use manual crushing tools to break up the concrete with caution, because hydraulic equipment could cause an additional collapse and kill them.”
And he continued that he slipped with difficulty with part of his body into a hole that the team had dug under the area where the woman was, and saw her and her three children lying on one bed, gathering on it when the earthquake surprised them, indicating that she told him that something hit her back and caused her great pain, so he went deeper to find a piece Wooden hit her back.
He said that he was able to cut it and free the woman from it, which made her feel some relief.
Al-Hammadi stressed that the scene could never leave his mind despite his long experience in this work, and his participation in rescue operations in disasters and earthquakes in other countries, as «the building was almost collapsed on the family, and the concrete ceiling was only a few centimeters separating their faces. They were unable to touch their faces with their hands, and they remained in this position for about four days before they were rescued.
And he added that the rescue team was able to get the mother out first, because she was at the beginning of the path that was paved, and she recommended before leaving to cover her, and this is what we were keen on doing in a humanitarian scene that does not happen often, then we got her children out one by one, after seven full hours of painstaking and careful work, Amidst tears of joy, some of us could not control it, as we were determined from the beginning to get them out, whatever the circumstances.
Al-Hammadi stated that he and a number of rescuers in the team participated in rescue operations after major disasters, such as the Indonesia tsunami and the earthquakes in Iran and Pakistan, but the Turkey earthquake remains more complex, in light of the massive destruction that befell several areas whose topography has completely changed, and the challenges represented in the harsh cold and darkness to the extent We had the feeling that we were working in a ghost town, where people huddled in a painful scene in groups to warm themselves around fires, in the midst of dust and fires that had been burning for some time.
earthquakes while working
Al-Hammadi said that the challenges that the Emirati rescue team faced while performing its duties included the occurrence of earthquakes and successive tremors, indicating that the sites were well secured, in order to ensure the safety of the team members.
He stated that the rescue team participated in saving 10 neighborhoods and recovering 26 bodies, expressing his pride in representing his country in this great humanitarian work, which reflects the value of the state and its constant presence in times of adversity to help others.
Experience and youth
The difficult task man at the Search and Rescue Department, Lieutenant Hashim Musa Muhammad, said, “The Dubai Police team included a mixture of experienced elements who had participated in similar disasters previously, and youth elements who moved for the first time to work in these complex humanitarian conditions, so it was necessary to prepare them psychologically so that they can They have the right to take appropriate decisions at the right time, despite the circumstances surrounding them, because readiness with ideas and plans is one of the basics of the work of the rescuer.”
He added, “The challenges were difficult, and we started working as soon as we arrived, participating in rescuing a man who suffered two days under the rubble of five floors that collapsed on top of him, a girl, and then the Syrian family. And the cases continued, in a deliberate rescue operation during which we took over a major aspect in light of the great capabilities that the Joint Operations Command provided us with by transferring our mechanisms and equipment.
Lieutenant General Staff Sergeant Hassan Ali Abdulsalam stated that the Dubai Police team is fully trained to deal with accidents, whether collapses or rescue in confined spaces, pointing out that the first challenge he faced in the Turkey earthquake was the speed of response and preparation for the journey that began within five years. Only hours of calling.
He stressed that “everyone worked like a beehive, and cooperated wonderfully, so we responded to the call as best as possible, and we were the first to respond and arrived on Turkish territory with our equipment and mechanisms.” We expect victims under the rubble, whether they are alive who need our immediate assistance or bodies that need to be recovered.”
Sergeant Muhammad Abdullah, from the Security Inspection Department “K9”, said that he participated in the work team with sniffer dogs, and the factions specialized in discovering corpses, and others in finding missing persons, were accompanied.
He added that the work team was distributed to the Kahramanmaraş region, and the rescue team proceeded with missing persons at the beginning, amid great difficulties, represented by the presence of major obstacles and collapses, which prevented people from reaching the people trapped under the rubble even if they were monitored by dogs, and this cast a heavy humanitarian shadow. On our hearts, because saving one person could cost the loss of an entire team.
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The officer specializing in crises and disasters, Lieutenant Hassan Ismail Al Balushi, from the Resilience Center at the Dubai Police General Command, said, “The center followed the earthquake from the first moment through the early warning system, and informed the leaders of its current developments, so we were assigned by the commander to take the necessary preparations pending the official summons, and this He was able to achieve an ideal response speed.”
He added that the Resilience Center assumed, according to its role, coordination with the various partners from the Dubai Ambulance, the National Ambulance, the rescue men and the security inspection “K9” from the Dubai Police, and then the call came from the Joint Operations Command of the Armed Forces, which spared no effort in Operation “The Gallant Knight 2”. Whether by providing an air bridge that transports men and equipment in a wonderful humanitarian scene.
He pointed out that «the Resilience Center took over securing the team’s needs, in terms of means of communication, and moved with it to Turkey to prepare the stationing site, in parallel with activating an operations room at the center’s headquarters at the Dubai Police General Command, and operating the shift system around the clock to follow up the progress of operations minute by minute, stressing that The feelings of the team members were a mixture of sadness because of the major disaster, and pride in the strong presence of the state at the time of intensification of the crisis.
He said, “The directives that came to the Emirates team in Turkey and Syria are to be the last to leave.”
• “The process of saving the Syrian family began when an elderly woman said that she heard a cry for help from under the rubble of a collapsed building.”
• “The team was divided into small alternating teams… They greeted each other, and the rest period sometimes did not exceed one hour.”
• “Providing an operating room at the flexibility center… and activating the shift system to follow up the situation around the clock.”
• “The Emirati team used specialized dogs to search for missing persons… and others to retrieve the bodies of the victims.”