Search and rescue workers across the UK have collected a container load of equipment to donate to Syria's White Helmets – a team who work to rescue civilians caught up in the country's civil war.
The White Helmets, who are credited with helping save tens of thousands of lives, will receive protective equipment, as well as specialist angle grinders, drills, and other equipment to help them get into ruined buildings much more quickly, saving more people.
The idea was the brainchild of Paul Murphy of the charity Mayday Rescue and has been supported by search and rescue units across the country, according to UK Search and Rescue capability officer Darryl Ashford-Smith, who helped coordinate the donation effort and said support was "fantastic".
"We have to refresh our equipment and we thought it would be a good idea to donate it to those who need it the most," he told BuzzFeed News.
UK legislation and regulations require equipment used in the UK to be refreshed and replaced at strict intervals, meaning surplus equipment – usually in good working condition – is often relegated to be used only in training, or is disposed of. No equipment in active use was donated as part of the initiative.
Ashford-Smith said teams across the country had collectively donated enough supplies to fill a container lorry, which were then dispatched to Jordan, where White Helmet workers will receive training from Mayday Rescue to help them use it, as well as further medical training.
"They won't be confronted with anything they can't use," he said. "There's been fantastic support across the country."
The donations and training efforts have been supported and funded by the Department for International Development, and come just ahead of World Humanitarian Day on 19 August, which marks the work of aid workers across the globe.
Ahead of the day, secretary of state for international development Priti Patel paid tribute to UK aid workers.
“Today we thank the men and women who demonstrate the goodness of humanity in places shadowed by despair, poverty and violence," she said. "They selflessly chose to try and make a difference by delivering food, shelter and medicine to people whom have been denied the most basic of human necessities.
“These extremely brave humanitarian heroes represent the best of us, while those who attack them represent the opposite.
“As we remember those who have unfairly lost their lives doing this incredible work, I want to thank those who continue to take the risks which allow the UK to stand tall with pride and make the lives of so many better."
James Ball is a special correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London. PGP: here
Contact James Ball at James.Ball@buzzfeed.com.
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