Last week, 13 volunteers from Hellenic Rescue Team (HRT) visited The Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue (RS) and the RS Sea rescue school (RSS) for one week of training.
In August 2015, The Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue sent an application for 3 million NOK to the Foreign Ministry in order to help fund the Hellenic Rescue Team (HRT) with equipment and training. Our application was approved and the Foreign Ministry allocated 3 million NOK to Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue (RS) in support of the voluntary rescue work in Greece.
On Monday the Minister of European Affairs, Vidar Helgesen, met and spoke with the volunteers from HRT at the RS Headquarters in Oslo.
During the week of training, the Hellenic Rescue Team has been through lectures such as first aid, SAR exercise in cold water, as well as theory based training.
Vice President of HRT, Nicolaos Priporas, was very excited by the training, "Being here, learning and exchanging ideas is very rewarding. The instructors from RS are professional and very good teachers and trainers."
Secretary General, Rikke Lind, embraces the partnership between HRT and RS, "Greece is in a desperate situation. Thousands of people are arriving by sea, fleeing from war, but the Greek Sea Rescue company has very few resources and means to execute sea rescue. Now we help them with what we do best; efficient and good sea rescue. We are looking forward to further develop this partnership."
The volunteers, who attended the first training course last week, came from Samos, Lesvos, Kos, Crete, Corfu and Thessaloniki.
Vasilis Esmanis, head of the HRT based at Lesvos, reflected on the challenge they face, "The situation in Lesvos is very bad. 3,000 people come here every day, our two refugee camps are full and when I left home, there were 10,000 refugees waiting to get off the Island. We do everything we can to help, but we have little means and no boats. We borrow fishing boats in the area."
The refugee situation in the Aegan Sea is critical and hopefully the participants from HRT took some valuable knowledge with them back to Greece after a week of training in Norway.
"This initiative by RS demonstrates how the maritime SAR community pulls together in time of adversity." says IMRF CEO, Bruce Reid, "Helping build the SAR response capability of the Hellenic Rescue Team will help with the current pressures and provide an enhanced SAR service in the future."
The IMRF is also working to coordinate activity of the NGO working on maritime SAR in the Aegean Sea, with IMRF Chairman, Udo Fox, attending meetings in Greece next week to get a clearer understanding of what is needed.
Photo Above: Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vidar Helgesen with Hellenic Rescue Team Vie President Nicolaos Priporas