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Prime Minister's wife thanks Haiti heroes

 KRFS UK International search and rescue efforts in Haiti
Sarah Brown has thanked KFRS and other search and rescue team for their contribution in Halti
Sarah Brown hosted a tea at Downing Street to thank a specialist search and rescue team - including staff from Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) - for their contribution to the rescue effort in Haiti.

The six staff flew to the Caribbean island in mid-January to assist in the international effort to rescue survivors in the aftermath of the earthquake which killed and injured thousand.

The Kent crews joined staff from eight UK fire and rescue services including Greater Manchester, West Sussex, West Midlands, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Hampshire and Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Services, totalling 64 staff, two search dogs and 12 tonnes of equipment.

Following their tea (8 February), staff making up UK International Search and Rescue (UK ISAR) team were taken for a tour of Number 10, visiting the Cabinet and state rooms.

Urban Search and Rescue Team Leader John Mazzey, who led the operations of the Kent crews in Haiti, said: "To be in the position to help countries that have been struck by natural disasters, like Haiti, is a real privilege.

"In the aftermath of the quake, Haiti simply did not have the tools or resources needed to carry out successful rescues. Over the past few years our Government has made sure that it has invested in training and equipment to deal with major incidents like this. However, in poorer countries, they simply do not have the funding to do so and when natural disasters occur they cause mass devastation.

"The whole team felt honoured that its efforts were recognised by Sarah Brown and the staff at 10 Downing Street"

"The whole team felt honoured that its efforts were recognised by Sarah Brown and the staff at 10 Downing Street."

Successes of the Kent firefighters working with other UK teams while in Haiti, included the rescue of a man in his 60s after seven hours of tunnelling.

The man was thrown out of his bed by the earthquake and ended up under it. The bed seemed to have protected him and helped him to survive. After rehydration, the lucky survivor recovered well and was treated for minor injuries.

As well as responding to UK ISAR deployments, the team also forms part of KFRS's Urban Search and Rescue response which has capability including kit to lift, cut and remove concrete and rubble from collapsed structures along with sophisticated equipment for finding casualties, including special cameras and listening devices.

The tools they use can penetrate reinforced concrete and metal to gain access to casualties and the use of shoring equipment allows team members to maintain a safe working position during rescues.

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