Hurricane Irma

Rescue Global Deploys to the Caribbean in Response to Hurricane Irma

Our team has deployed in response to Hurricane Irma. We are deploying with a number of key capabilities, drawing from our own internal expertise and those of our Crisis and Disaster Resilience Alliance (CaDRA), to provide medical assistance; Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence (C4I); reconnaissance; needs assessments and inter-agency coordination and support. We are working to the host nation authorities and working with British and American official agencies. This mission is called Operation Ursula, after the patron saint of the Virgin Islands.

This page will be a running news log of our deployment to the Caribbean in response to Hurricane Irma. Our team will be reporting back to our 24 hour HQ on a regular schedule, and we will be posting situational reports (sitreps) here.

Update - Tuesday 19th September

The Rescue Global response to Hurricane Irma, and Hurricane Maria:

Due to the incoming category 5 Hurricane Maria, having already hard hit the islands of Domenica, Martinique and Guadeloupe, we have pulled our team team out of San Juan, Puerto Rico, where we had set up our base of operations. Puerto Rico is expected to be heavily impacted, having not experienced a hurricane of this magnitude in over 85 years.

The hurricane approaching could have destroyed our aircraft, represented a life risk to the team, and render us ineffective. Our job is to save life and enable others, not to become a burden. We have moved to the south of the region, just outside of the impact area of Hurricane Maria and are in detailed planning for our next steps, once the impacts of the new storm system are clear.

Our future intent is to move rapidly back into the affected region on the tail of Hurricane Maria, our Pathfinder Teams conducting rapid reconnaissance and needs assessments. These will empower the Air and Sea Bridge that we are establishing with Airlink and Patient AirLift Services and other partners.

We will bring in hundreds of tonnes of aid from outside the region, up to and including the vital last mile (to those who need is most).

In the meantime, we are closely monitoring Hurricane Maria, and express a heartfelt desire that all in her path stay safe.

Update - Thursday 14th September

Rescue Global and S.A.R.A.I.D are teaming up with Airlink and Patient Airlift Services (PALS) to deliver a high volume of humanitarian aid to the Caribbean islands devastated by Hurricane Irma. The Operation Airlift Irma partnership will work with 8 air carriers and 60+ NGO partners to deliver aid such as medical​ supplies, ​food, water​, sanitation, hygiene ​supplies, emergency ​shelter, telecommunications, and ​generators ​to ​provide​ emergency​ electricity.

We are working in close collaboration with the Caribbean Disaster​ and ​Emergency​ Management ​Agency ​(CDEMA),​ the ​UN ​World​ Food Program ​(WFP)​ Logistics Cluster, ​Government ​of ​the ​British ​Virgin ​Islands, ​USAID ​Office​ of​ Foreign​ Disaster ​Assistance ​(USAID / OFDA), ​FEMA / VITEMA, to ensure a credible and effective response.

The Rescue Global role will be two-fold. Firstly, to gather needs assessments through satellite image assessment, aerial surveys, and ground surveys by our Pathfinder teams and our partners at S.A.R.A.I.D. This information will allow for prioritisation of aid across all islands affected by Irma, as well ensuring specific urgent needs are met, such as food, water, and medical assistance. In addition to ground and air teams, we are crowd-sourcing pre and post disaster satellite imagery analysis on the platform Zooniverse, in partnership with the University of Oxford, in order to generate “heat maps” of clear evidence of damage.

Secondly, Rescue Global will take on the role of coordinating aid deliveries to those most in need, receiving heavy aircraft from the continental USA into San Juan (Puerto Rico) provided by our partners at Airlink, from where Rescue Global will then push that aid forward, using a volunteer fleet of light aircraft provided by Airlink, Lift and PALS.

Our mission intent is:

To Save Life, by enabling others. Rescue Global personnel will deploy to The Virgin Islands to provide command support to the relief efforts.

Our mission objectives in brief are:
As an organisation coordinating a response to Hurricane Irma and Jose with a network of key partners, we are issuing two primary calls to action:

  1. The safe deployment to, operation in, and recovery from the area with a fully insured, vetted and qualified team supervised by Watchkeep HQ in London, complete with trackers and communications.
  2. To enable local rescue teams with the support that could include enabling the leadership team to access the area.
  3. To deploy medical (EMTs and doctors) personnel, along with search and rescue capacity to support the Virgin Islands medical capability.
  4. To provide leadership and support to nation state authorities, local fire, medical, police and volunteers on the ground, specifically with a view to medical evacuations and initial search and rescue activities.
  5. To report and so enable the British military (HMS Ocean and others) through PJHQ, and the US Military (Rescue Squadrons) via SouthCom, for the largest medical and life-saving impact.
  6. To coordinate and advise other agencies, including local and international NGOs to ensure their best and most effective use.
  7. To provide 500 + water filters that provide clean water for 50,000 people over the next 5 years.

​These short clips show some of the areas of expertise our team are bringing to the deployment: aviation, satellite communications, and UN OSOCC coordination.

First call: if you have interests (personal and/or professional) in the US and British Virgin Islands and require assistance or wish to provide help, please reach out to us; we may be able to support or work with you.

Second call: if you are an NGO or organisation with capabilities or capacity to respond, support and assist us, please contact us and we can connect you to our Director of Preparedness to discuss further.

Follow our team’s deployment to the Caribbean through regular updates (SITREPs) here and on our social media.

For any media enquiries, please contact hannah@rescueglobal.org.

Hurricane Irma

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