Day 1: Departure to Turkey
Day 2: February 12, 2023
Day 3: February 13, 2023
Day 4: February 14, 2023
Day 5: February 15, 2023
Day 6: February 16, 2023
Day 7: February 17, 2023
Update February 18, 2023
Update February 19, 2023
Day 8/9: Turkey February 18 and 19, 2023
After a few days of intensive cooperation, tireless energy from various people, unconditional help from an unexpected source, the rescue dog teams of the RHWW Foundation, Flemish Rescue Dogs Teams (VRH), Oger SARdogs (OSD), Reddingshonden Team Noord-Holland (RHT) have succeeded in -NH), RHGD Rescue Dogs Foundation and International Northern Search & Earthquake Dogs Foundation (INSED) to depart from Schiphol on February 11, 2023.
In total, 30 people and 18 dogs left. In addition to the dog handlers and the support team, two people will accompany us to support us in communication.
There are flights to Istanbul. There will be one transfer, after which the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) will take care of us. The rescue dog teams will search the Hatay region, with the safety of humans and animals being central. Although the chances of finding survivors are very low, it is important that the people who are missing are found so that their loved ones can say goodbye.
For now we would like to express our gratitude to the home front (family, friends, colleagues, employers, etc.). Without their help and support, such a large-scale search, in such a short period of time, would be impossible.
We have now heard this morning, February 12, 2023, that the journey is going quickly and well. The last part they were transported to Adana by private plane. From there they go by road to the earthquake zone. There is a lot of gratitude and they are well taken care of.
Day 2: February 12, 2023
This day was largely devoted to “arriving at the destination”. Various means of transport have been used for this, such as an airplane, helicopters, cars, etc.
It is clear that the involvement and care, from Turkey, is good for the rescue teams. Everyone is especially happy and grateful that we come and want to help.
At the end of the afternoon it was initially discussed where and how to realize a base camp. After that, an initial reconnaissance has been done and a lot has already been searched.
No rescuers have yet been to the area. Reports are coming in that people are still alive under the rubble. It’s chaos, but the mood is good.
A piece of land has now been designated near a stadium where the groups can set up their own tents for now. Each rescue dog group has brought several (own) tents, in which the people and the dogs can sleep. All teams have ensured that in case of emergency / calamities they can manage independently for a number of days.
The day was impressive in every way for both our people and the dogs. Hoping for a good first night and tomorrow (continue) with what we came for: “searching for missing persons”.
After the tent camp was realized last night, everyone was tired and rest was taken. The deployment leaders and the people of the support team/group leaders have continued to arrange further logistical matters.
The sun came out early, which melted the ice on the tents. Everyone got through the night well. It was cold, but the people and the dogs of the rescue dog teams were not cold.
Received hot noodles from the Chinese neighbors this morning. They also said that people are still being pulled alive from under the rubble. They (the Chinese) will leave today and have donated a lot of stuff to us. Items such as cooking pans, logs, water, food (energy rich rice, spices, beef and fruit).
Today is a full day of hard work by everyone. We work with six groups in shifts of three. Three seek and three rest. We will continue to work daily as long as possible and safe. We are cooperating with the SAR from Turkey and the army. They always check whether the search area is (sufficiently) safe before a team with dogs goes on it. A recovery team goes with every dog team. We now have 1 photo of the search (Source: Insta of Turkish government channel) We expect to post more photos of the search with the dogs tomorrow as we are still working hard at the moment.
As for accommodation, we will stay where we are. With the help of the Turkish army, another 20 tents were collected and brought to the tent camp. There is good cooperation between each other and with everyone around. The Turkish language that our people (we have two interpreters with us) master is of great added value.
The solidarity of the Turkish population, the Turkish army, AFAD and other aid workers present is unprecedented. We are grateful for the help we receive in Turkey, but also from the Netherlands. In addition to the support of many people involved, our colleagues from the RHWW and our colleagues from the other rescue dog organizations, with which we work (SRO) 24/7, with and without a dog, are still ready for possible deployment / search for people who are missing in the Netherlands. A number of our colleagues perform tasks / arrange matters behind the scenes for the benefit of the deployment in Turkey.
LATEST NEWS: A 13-year-old girl has been found alive on referral from the dogs….
The Collaborating Rescue Dogs Organization (SRO) is working day and night. At the moment there are six different rescue dog groups working as one group. That is also the strength of the SRO and an example of ‘strong together’.
The teams indicate that it is such an enormous destruction that you cannot imagine.
The will and motivation of the rescue teams and the dogs is almost palpable. The dogs work well and take their rest when they can. It is not for nothing that it is said that “the visible relationship between the dog(s) and their handler(s) is one of the most special partnerships in nature”.
There is minimal contact with the teams, as they work hard and really have to take the six hours of rest. Of course messages come in during a break. These messages can then be about the weather (sun during the day and a temperature of -6 in the evening), about the food, the pleasant working atmosphere and the help they receive from the care providers around them.
As of today, the coordination is done by the Turkish army and the USAR. The days before, the implementation was in progress
AFAD (see report day 1). The aid workers from Mexico, who also work in the area, are packing today and will leave the disaster area in Antakya.
Behind the scenes, hard work is being done by the home front (such as family, colleagues from the work of the people who are on duty, colleagues from the rescue dog groups who have stayed at home, etc.). Attention is paid to the emotional impact on family members, who are obviously super proud, but also in suspense whether the person they love, the dogs that are their family, will return home safely.
Furthermore, a lot of contact is sought by the media, who mainly want information about the rescue dogs and the rescue teams that are at work in Turkey. Unfortunately we can say little about that. The contacts we have with our colleagues in Turkey are short and, in particular, the necessary information is shared. They have to take the rest moments given that they continue day and night. Every minute counts and the search has priority 1.
Of course we keep hoping for the miracles, like on day three…….
Day 5: February 15, 2023.
This morning a message arrived that we had hoped for. Again, four survivors were pulled from under the rubble, after reference from the dogs. This is what we do it for.
From the SRO
rescue dog groups we hear again and again how special the cooperation is, but also how much respect and admiration they have for the other rescue organizations and the incredible perseverance and commitment of the Turkish army and the SAR.
The photos speak for themselves. Our colleagues and the dogs are still working. Tonight, if the connection allows, they will be on the screen at 112 Today (Giro 555).
We also want to emphasize how important it is that the residents from Turkey and Syria are helped. Every contribution and form of help counts.
Together we are strong.
Our colleagues in Turkey continue to search for missing persons day and night. They take their rest well and despite the fact that it is tough (physically and emotionally), they let us know that they are doing well. The dogs also work well and are still sufficiently fit and motivated to search. Tomorrow (Friday) the teams will search for (missing) persons all day and evening. It has been discussed and decided with, among others, the SAR that they will search in areas where no aid has yet been provided.
It is planned to fly back to the Netherlands next Saturday, February 18, 2023. The time of departure is yet to be confirmed. It helps that the airport in Hatay is open again. That airport is about 25 kilometers from the tent camp. So fewer different means of transport will have to be used, which is especially nice for the dogs.
Together we are strong
SRO (Collaborating Rescue Dog Organizations)
Today the rescue dog teams are going to search the center of Antakya. It will be the last day of the search for the groups, which will be and will be emotionally difficult for them. So many people have not been found and the suffering and sadness is so palpable.
It has now been confirmed that they will fly back to the Netherlands on Saturday 18 February 2023. They are expected to land at Schiphol around 5 p.m.
In addition to caring for each other and the conversations with each other and the check-in and check-out moments, an operational debriefing will take place before they land at Schiphol.
For further aftercare from the moment they come home, attention is paid, which is known to those involved of people who return from Turkey, but which has also been discussed with the people themselves. Naturally, this will continue to be the focus of attention in the coming period. Because our people do this voluntarily, most will simply have to go back to work.
Fortunately, the experience is that family, friends, employers and colleagues from work and colleagues from all rescue dog teams that are part of the Collaborating Rescue Dog Organizations (SRO) are aware of this and therefore pay attention to it. They are and remain priceless which cannot be mentioned often enough. They are also part of this commitment and make it possible for rescue dog groups to be involved in cases of missing persons.
The rescue dog groups that are currently working together are Stichting RHWW, Vlaamse Reddingshondenteams (VRH), Oger SARdogs (OSD), Reddingshonden Team Noord-Holland (RHT-NH), Stichting RHGD Reddingshonden and Stichting International Northern Search & Earthquake Dogs (INSED). On behalf of these Foundations, we would like to thank donors and all the people who follow us on Social Media and send sweet and warm messages. Without this support, we as voluntary organizations have no right to exist.
As for the aftercare of the dogs, we can say that the dogs work with their own boss and are therefore part of the family. Of course they will receive the necessary kisses and massage when they return home. There is also attention for taking long walks, playing with “dog friends from the neighbourhood” and a visit to the osteopath and/or physiotherapist.
Questions are regularly asked on Social Media about our dogs working without shoes on the rubble. Our experience is that the dogs, provided they run completely loose and have nothing around their body that they can get stuck on, never have problems with their feet. The dogs also work quietly on the rubble and determine the pace and independently find their own route. Of course, the soles of their feet are always checked and the dog handlers do have emergency shoes with them for their own dog. Our experience is that the dogs with shoes on are less likely to walk on rubble.
In some countries, the temperature also plays a major role, making it necessary to wear shoes to prevent burns.
During the deployment, we can always call on (ask for and consult with) various colleagues who are or have been veterinarians. Should an emergency arise, a vet in the country of destination will be consulted and (if applicable) visited.
Together we are strong
BREAKING NEWS ~ Shortly after day 7 was published, we reconnected with our field deployment leaders. These indicated that with today’s search, the dogs provided 19 referrals. It has just been confirmed by the SAR that three bodies have now been recovered and one person has been found ALIVE. The rest of the references are still being worked on ~
Following the referrals of the rescue dogs of the SRO, another person has been removed alive from under the rubble today. Another good result of the cooperation in the disaster area. In Turkish there is a beautiful word for “Tekyürek”, which stands for “Together we are one”.
The solidarity of all in the area is greatly appreciated. As a result of yesterday’s referrals, work is still ongoing at various locations, so the number of 7 rescued people may still be adjusted….
We are now awaiting new flight times as the previously planned arrival at Schiphol at 5 p.m. today will NOT take place, and hopefully people will arrive in the Netherlands tonight / tonight.
We will report again on Monday about the latest developments.
Together we are strong / Tekyüreke
Update February 19, 2023
The message has just come in that the SRO group in total:
47 references, 10 alive and 5 recovered.
Collaborating Rescue Dog Organizations (SRO):
Reddingshondenteam NH Alarmnummer 24/7 T: 0630855923
International Northern Search & Earthquake Dogs
NOS AD.nl De Telegraaf NRC NPO
Day 8/9, Turkey February 18 and 19, 2023
February 18, 2023 was all about cleaning up, saying goodbye and traveling back to the Netherlands.
The devastation, the sorrow and the suffering made a deep impression on them. They are grateful for all the help they received and the fact that they were able to help. However, the reality remains that many people are still missing.
At Hatay airport, the teams waited for a while for the flight to Istanbul. Fortunately, they had the dogs with them and could wait outside with the group. Unfortunately, they could no longer save the planned flight to Istanbul, and therefore also the flight to Schiphol. Estimated arrival time of 5:00 PM became 9:30 PM. All dogs were allowed to stay on the plane with their owners for the entire return journey.
At Schiphol, the teams were met by their families, but also by the Consul General. There was a personal meeting with him where both the dog handlers, the support staff / group leaders and the dogs received a personal memento. Subsequently, all rescue dog teams were thanked by many people, with and without Turkish origin, with applause, roses and chocolate, among other things. Their presence was heartwarming and overwhelming and will never be forgotten.
Family was also present at the home base to wait for their loved ones and to take them home quickly. At 04:00 on February 19, all colleagues and the dogs were safely home, and the lights could be turned off…..
The rescue dog groups of the RHWW Foundation, Flemish Reddingshondenteams (VRH), Oger SARdogs, Reddingshonden Team Noord-Holland (RHT-NH), RHGD Reddingshonden Foundation and International Northern Search & Earthquake Dogs Foundation (INSED) would also like to express their gratitude to Turkish Airlines and the Turkish SAR (salvage team). The dogs and the teams are very well cared for and helped by them. Their help and cooperation has ensured that the teams were able to reach their destination quickly and return home safely. The dog teams at Schiphol have also received the necessary help and cooperation and are also thanked for that.
Undoubtedly we will have forgotten to mention someone who has had a role and / or share in making it possible that we as the Cooperating Rescue Dogs Organization have been able to offer our help in Turkey. We apologize for this.
Together we are strong / Tekyürek.