In November 2015, Indianapolis (IN) Fire Department Captain Jerry Richert saw a new story about the migrant crisis unfolding in Mediterranean that spurred him to dramatic action.
Richert spoke with Fire Engineering about how a Sky News report about diving and a boat that sank off the Greek Island of Samos, posted below, spurred him to reach out to the dive team involved in the rescue efforts.
“Watching the video, I couldn’t help but notice their equipment and the fact that they were facing something we probably will never see in our careers,” Richert, who is the Indianapolis Dive Team and Rope Coordinator, said in an e-mail. ” I knew I had to do something, so I got together with my department and asked if they would allow me to fix, repair and test some equipment we acquired through mergers and donate it to their team.” The process involved numerous organizations–the Indianapolis Fire Department and its legal arm, Indianapolis Homeland Security, Dive Rescue International, and UPS. Richert worked on the equipment on days off and, with all involved, they were able to get the dive team the equipment by Christmas 2015.
In March 2016, Richert traveled to Samos to meet the team, teach a couple of repair classes so members could maintain the equipment we gave them, and provide some spare parts and tools. After arriving and spending some time, Richert realized the true gravity of the situation. There are no dive teams on the island. The Samos Diving Association is a recreational dive club, and the dive on the video was their first recovery operation. Since the country of Greece is in financial crisis and the dive association only has 10 divers (of which only four or five perform the recovery and rescue operations), it was clear that the person in charge of the team, Alexandros Malegaris, needed to become a dive Instructor to sustain the association and recruit and train more people. Richert was able to raise the nearly $3000.00 this year to send Malegaris to dive instructor school in Greece, which he will be doing in 2017.
Richert also learned that the equipment Malegaris was using to lower and raise himself to the bodies or people fit into a bag “the size of a lunch bag,” according to Richert. He added that the department was having items like uniforms and PPE donated from other countries because of Greece’s bleak financial state.
Now Richert is trying to raise enough money to purchase a CMC Rope Rescue Truck Cache Kit MPD for the dive team, for which he will be providing training and additional Public Safety Diving material. He is seeking to raise the additional $4,000 needed to purchase the equipment. More information about the endeavor can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/samosgreece