Lincolnshire firefighter humbled after humanitarian deployment to Bangladesh

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A Lincolnshire fire officer says he has been honoured and humbled to be deployed as part of the forward team in a humanitarian request to Bangladesh, where he worked with the UK’s Emergency Medical Team (EMT).

Station Manager Dave Phillips, who has worked at both Lincoln and Gainsborough fire stations during his 19-year career with the Lincolnshire service, is currently on a government funded secondment to the UK-ISAR`s International search and rescue team, to assist with training and development for the UK`s EMT along with training firefighters who are deployed to disaster situations.

The 51-year-old was recently in Bangladesh where a new medical centre has been constructed by the local in country organisations and made operational to make sure thousands of people have access to life-saving diphtheria vaccinations.

The medical centre is sited in an area of Bangladesh which has seen the arrival of more than half a million people who have fled their homes in neighbouring Myanmar because of civil unrest.

Dave said: “Anyone who is involved within the fire service, firefighters on the pump to fire safety are all, first and foremost, humanitarians. We are all in this type of role because we want to make a difference.

“When you look at something that is happening somewhere else in the world, from a sudden onset disaster, we as a service or as an individual can make people’s lives better, you feel very proud to wear the uniform and make that difference.

“It is strange to think that a few weeks ago we were enjoying Christmas at home, but just two days earlier I was in a Bangladesh refugee camp watching children playing in the streets under very difficult conditions.”

Cllr Nick Worth, Executive Member for Fire and Rescue at Lincolnshire County Council, added: “We’re very proud of the achievements of our Urban Search and Rescue team and the contribution they make not only in our county, but nationally and internationally. Working alongside other services keeps their expertise at a high level as well as helping in places in the world that are seeing real suffering.”

A UK team is still in attendance in Bangladesh, including Medical Staff from UK Med 34, supported by five UK-ISAR Fire and rescue logistical staff and a team leader from Department for international development (Dfid).