YATE is playing its part in the massive international relief effort in the Caribbean, to help survivors of Hurricane Irma.

Irma has caused catastrophic damage across the islands, leaving at least 37 people dead.

The storm, one of the most powerful ever recorded in the Atlantic basin, has left many residents without shelter, electricity, running water and food.

Now, members of SARAID, a Yate based search, rescue and disaster response team, has been deployed to the area.

SARAID (Search and Rescue Assistance in Disasters) team leader Rob Davis spoke to the Gazette about what the charity will be doing on the ground.

“In this particular instance, our role will be one of co-ordination and assessment, rather than search and rescue,” said Mr Davis, who is also an assistant chief fire officer with Avon Fire and Rescue Service.

“We have deployed two of our members, a structural engineer and a medical expert, who will be joining a team from Rescue Global.

“They are currently at a holding point in Texas, where they are on the cusp of mobilising to the Turks and Caicos islands.

“In practical terms, our volunteers have got to be very mobile and self-reliant, and not demand any resources from their host country.

“They’ve got to be able to work in a devastated community, providing their own shelter, food, medical supplies and communication.

“Generally, they will be looking at identifying the needs of the community, and working with the local government to plan a strategic response.”

Although SARAID welcomes volunteers from all over the UK, the focal point for its operations is at Yate Fire Station.

Staffed entirely by 30 volunteers and funded solely by public donations, the international response team is on call 365 days a year, always ready to provide trained search and rescue personnel, free of charge to any country in need. Its membership includes fire-fighters, paramedics, doctors, engineers and builders. Donate via: saraid.org.uk