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SA team ready to help in Morocco

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South African paramedics, police sniffer dogs and humanitarian aid organisation, the Gift of the Givers, are standing by to assist earthquake-ravaged Morocco.

Teams have been preparing and packing equipment to enable them to leave at short notice once they receive a request for help from the Moroccan government.

Four paramedics from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology are part of the team.

The 6.8 magnitude quake, which struck in Morocco’s Atlas Mountain range, has so far claimed over 2 800 lives.

The death toll has risen significantly over the past few days.

The disaster relief organisation says its made all the necessary preparations to asist with medical supplies as well as technical and medical skills in rescue and recovery efforts.

Dr Imitiaz Sooliman, founder of Gift of the Givers, says they are on standby.

“I’m sure there are going to be lots of people alive who are going to need support to be pulled out of the rubble. So, in Morocco’s best interest, yes allow them to open the roadway themselves, governments need to have that empowerment to do it themselves but when that happens, let the world come and help you, because you can make a difference. We’ve got medical teams, we have got equipment, we have got the life detector, it can tell us within three minutes who is alive 10 meters under the ground. South African sniffer dogs are highly skilled, they can pick up live people and bodies at the same time and we have got a whole trauma medical team on standby and we can bring in equipment, tents, blankets, medicines, whatever you want, it’s up to you.”

Sooliman says the organisation has made contact with the Moroccan government offering help.

So, far the north African country has accepted help from among others Spain, the UK and the UAE.

“I’ve told that to the Moroccan government, that when you guys open the roads, your armed forces are going to be very tired, because not only is it physically exhausting, it’s emotionally exhausting. Because everybody comes to you. Our teams experienced that in Turkey, please my daughter is there, my mother is there, my five family members are there, please can you help but everybody wants you to come to every building. That’s not humanly possible, so when that kind of emotional challenge sets in, it exhausts you and we are saying when that happens you need all the teams in the world, each one to take a different area because you haven’t accessed everything.”

CPUT paramedics, Ncumisa Mayila and Elroy Cameron says their training stands them in good stead to assist in events like this.

Mayila says, “The structural collapse part, specifically, will be my first but ping that my skills that I have acquired will be able to assist in some way even if it’s not complete in a rescue capacity but if I could maybe assist in the medical component as well.”

Cameron says, “The earlier you get there the better it is for people to survive in that situation. However, it might be a body recovery, especially with an earthquake, buildings collapse they usually call it pancaked when the top floor falls into the bottom floor, and that needs to be broken up but you don’t know if somebody is there. That’s when the search dogs will come in and give an indication and there’s other technical equipment you can use.”

The Gift of the Givers says all the necessary planning has been done and that it’s now just waiting for the call to step in. – Reporting by Micaleb Lawrence.

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