Jop Heinen (35) from Zutphen is a spokesperson for the East Netherlands police in daily life, but he is now part of the Dutch search and rescue team USAR, which will carry out rescue work in the earthquake zone for ten days from today.
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The team is currently driving in Hatay, a hard-hit region in southern Turkey bordering Syria. “We are told by the Turkish authorities exactly where we are being deployed. Communication about this is smooth, they speak good English and have a lot of experience in coordinating rescue teams due to previous disasters.”
Contact with the home front
As spokesman for the team, Heinen not only speaks to the press, but he also takes care of the contacts between the members of the team and the home front. “The moment the news about the earthquake comes out, the decision is made within a few hours to go there. Then you will soon be away from home for at least a week, from one day to the next. family can be quite difficult sometimes, but you know it’s part of it.”
The team consists of 150 specially trained men and women from the police, fire brigade, ambulance services and Defense. The Netherlands is one of the few countries in the world that can deploy such a team in the event of major disasters.
The atmosphere in the team is good, says Heinen. “We are glad that we are complete and that all our stuff has arrived safely.” of rescue teams from all over the world. The plane with 15 tons of equipment from the Dutch team therefore had to divert this morning to a nearby airbase. “It all worked out in the end.”
This equipment includes a tent camp that can be set up by the rescue team near the place where the rescue operations will take place. It contains food, drinking water and toilets, among other things. There are also tools that are used to get people out from under the rubble.
Rescue dogs trained in Nunspeet
The Dutch auxiliaries also include eight dogs from the National Police, including Leendert Amersfoort from Lelystad and his dog Zuky. The Dutch rescue dogs are trained in Nunspeet. It is not the first rescue operation for the dogs, Heinen explains. “They are deployed during disasters and major accidents throughout the Netherlands. They were also allowed to work after the huge explosion in the port of Beirut in August 2020, where the USAR team was also deployed.”
Heinen also worked there as a spokesman for the team at the time. How did he end up with the rescue team as spokesperson for the East Netherlands Police? “That actually stemmed from my previous work, at the police in the Rijnmond region. A number of colleagues were already on that team there, and that really appealed to me,” said the Zutphen resident. gives great satisfaction to be able to offer a helping hand from the Netherlands.”
The team hopes to begin rescue work in Turkey in the coming hours. They are prepared for a big job. The death toll from the earthquake, which had a magnitude of 7.8 on the Richter scale, has now risen to more than 5,000.
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