Hurricane Irma: Gloucestershire man arrives in Barbados as part of the first International Rescue Team


The first international rescue team to reach Barbados in response to Hurricane Irma is a unique British collaboration, with Serve Ons International Response Team combining their 20 years of disaster rescue expertise with Team Rubicon UKs ability to harness a broader volunteering base.

In this first wave, 5 experienced disaster responders from Serve On have deployed alongside 2 members of Team Rubicon UK. Together they provide a self-sufficient assessment and light rescue capability capable of operating in remote areas, triaging disaster damage and passing vital information back to UN coordinators.

The team includes a disaster responder from Gloucestershire, Andy Harris (pictured).  Andy’s day job is as an IT technician for Infosys but he is also one of the most experienced members of the Serve On team. In addition to being a trained USAR technician, he is also Serve Ons Canine Team leader, managing a team of dog handlers who can deploy internationally, but who also support local police forces in the UK with missing peoples searches.

The volunteers from across the UK arrived in Barbados at 2000hrs (UK time), having departed their Salisbury HQ early in the morning. Overnight they have been liaising with United Nations coordination teams and beginning to assess the impact of the damage wrought by this category 5 Hurricane.

Pete Old, Serve Ons Director said “From our perspective, this is a great step forward in disaster response, seamlessly linking the rescue and recovery phase through a joint deployment. Whilst our teams are experienced at locating casualties and providing a technical rescue capability, this deployment also enables the UN to use them to gather crucial information to make the wider response much more effective”.