Charity get ready for action with mock earthquake

SARAID volunteer (front) Ben Findlay, in training at RAF Upwood, with colleagues (l-r) Kris Hurley a

SARAID volunteer (front) Ben Findlay, in training at RAF Upwood, with colleagues (l-r) Kris Hurley and Paul Incledon - Credit: Archant

An earthquake measuring 4.8 on the Richter scale shook RAF Upwood last week – but no one felt a thing.

The aftermath of a quake was the mock scenario faced by members of Search and Rescue Assistance in Disasters (SARAID).

The charity was set up in 2001 and is staffed by volunteers who are ready to respond to a disaster for real anywhere in the world, 365 days a year.

Ben Findlay, 24, an emergency planning officer for Anglian Water, set up the four-day training exercise. He said: “It started last Tuesday at 10pm and went on until Saturday lunchtime.

“The scenario was that there had been an earthquake in the East Anglia region on Monday night, then a second that was 7.6 (on the Richter Scale) which triggered our team to respond.”

Training included “breaking and breaching”, drilling holes in walls to access a casualty trapped in a building, and searching for people using listening devices.

Members camped on site and set up a base of operations, some were used in disaster areas to communicate with teams in the field and the UK.

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They also put up a medical tent, mainly for team members but also casualties if necessary, as well another in which to store their search and rescue equipment, including stretchers.

About 16 people took part in last week’s exercise,

It was a chance to test new members and refresh the skills of others. Volunteers come from all walks of life and from all over the country and train together once a month.

Mr Findlay, who lives in Hampton, near Peterborough, has been involved for five years after hearing a presentation about SARAID while studying disaster management at Coventry University.

“Training takes two years,” he said. “I’ve been operational for two years but I’m still waiting for the first shout.

“We don’t just turn up at a disaster - we go to countries where we are given permission to help and where we are required.”

The last disaster SARAID responded to was the earthquake in Haiti in 2010.

Its teams have also been deployed to Turkey, India, Mexico, Palestine, Pakistan and Algeria.

INFORMATION: The charity is entirely funded by public donations. For more details on how to support its work or how to become an operational member, visit