Former Bath firefighter leads Haiti earthquake relief team

A former Bath firefighter leading a relief team in Haiti said he hopes they will find survivors a week after a devastating magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit.

Rob Davis, 50, coordinates a group of structural engineers from the Search and Rescue Assistance in Disaster (SARAID) charity to assess hospitals and schools in three earthquake-torn cities.

Mr Davis, of Bath, said his team of former firefighters, paramedics and engineers will be examining buildings in Miragoane, Les Cayes and Jérémie to see if they are safe to use and for anyone trapped inside.

Speaking ahead of his trip from the capital, Port-au-Prince, to the affected region in the west of the island on Saturday, he said: “The numbers of people affected and injured are quite horrific.

“I know the region and the beautiful people of Haiti well. Obviously there is apprehension about what we are going to see.

“But we train our people well, they’re prepared for this kind of thing, and we just want to go on and get into the affected areas now.”

When asked if he expected to find survivors, he replied, “There is always hope and there is always a chance.

A wounded is assisted by rescuers.

“There is statistical evidence around the world that people are pulled out of earthquakes within days.

“After the earthquake in Mexico in the early 1980s, where a hospital collapsed, premature babies were taken alive about 25 days after the earthquake, so there are these miracle events.

“As the days go by, this window of survival decreases. It depends on the condition of the victims.

“If they are not traumatized and have access to water, there might still be people in need of rescue.”

He added that five days after the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir, Pakistan, an 80-year-old man was rescued from a building.

Mr Davis said: “He survived because he was not traumatized, he was literally buried in the building that collapsed on top of him, and it rained very hard and had sunk down the walls of the building he was in.

“He was licking the rain off the walls and that kept him alive. So we don’t give up hope.”

A camp created for people displaced by the Port Au Prince earthquake in 2010.

Davis, who also rescued Haitians following the 2010 earthquake that hit Port-au-Prince, said the capital was only “starting to recover”.

The epicenter of the 2021 earthquake was about 78 miles west of the capital, according to the US Geological Survey.

Mr Davis said: “Reports that we are receiving damage are pretty widespread and we have major cities affected, but it is not as urbanized and not as populated (like Port-au-Prince).

“It is a very poor country, it is one of the poorest countries in the western world, and it is above all an earthquake.

“Poor old Haiti has seen a catalog of disasters with floods, earthquakes, cholera epidemics, so people are very resilient individuals and communities. “

The SARAID team led by Mr. Davis must stay in Haiti for eight days for its rescue mission.

Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency said Wednesday the death toll was 2,189 and 12,268 people injured. Dozens are still missing.

It is estimated that more than 200,000 people died in the 2010 earthquake.

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