Paramedic returns from rescue mission

By Sheena WalsheA PARAMEDIC who was part of a 12-strong search and rescue team sent to earthquake-hit Algeria has returned home.Andy Bambridge, from Thurlow, near Haverhill, flew into Stansted Airport yesterday after a four-day mission to try to save people buried beneath devastated buildings in the north African country.

By Sheena Walshe

A PARAMEDIC who was part of a 12-strong search and rescue team sent to earthquake-hit Algeria has returned home.

Andy Bambridge, from Thurlow, near Haverhill, flew into Stansted Airport yesterday after a four-day mission to try to save people buried beneath devastated buildings in the north African country.

Mr Bambridge, a paramedic with the East Anglian Ambulance Trust, and the rest of the Rapid UK team arrived in Algeria on Friday.


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A spokeswoman for the group said the team had spent hours trying to free an 11-year-old girl, called Sabrina, from the rubble, but had been forced to withdraw after 16 hours because of serious aftershocks.

She added: "The team were operational in the field for two days and although attempts to save the little girl were unsuccessful, there was a positive side in that they built very good relations and local people were happy with the efforts they made."

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The earthquake struck on Wednesday night and the death toll currently stands at more than 2,200. It was the latest in a line of humanitarian missions that Mr Bambridge, 38, has taken part in around the world.

In 2001 he helped with the aftermath of an earthquake in India, using fibre optic cameras, heat-seeking equipment, sonic listening devices and specialist cutting gear to locate and free survivors.

Last year he made a harrowing aid trip to the bombed city of Jenin in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

His wife Sue, a purser for British Airways, praised the ambulance trust for allowing her husband to take his holidays for the voluntary rescue missions.

She said: "He got the call at 7.30am, was on a plane at Stansted that night and landed in Algiers at 2.30am.

"Their main purpose was search and rescue, to listen for anyone who is alive and try to get them out. They have had a lot of success in the past and they were quite hopeful of finding people this time.

"I am very proud of what he does. Obviously it affects him, but he is not the kind of person to dwell on things."

Rapid UK is run by volunteers and has trained teams around the world waiting to respond to disasters at a moment's notice.

sheena.walshe@eadt.co.uk

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