A year ago today, two colleagues in Hampshire lost their lives in a
tragic incident involving a major fire at a block of flats. These
kind of anniversaries always serve as a timely reminder and provide
pause for reflection I think.
I hadn't really registered the date last night when I was
watching the documentary on the work of the UK-ISAR team in Japan a
couple of weeks ago. It's amazing how soon something like that
starts to feel a long time ago - yet there are still real problems
tackling the incident, the nuclear power plant and thousands of
people remain unaccounted for. But there are connections - and
these were reinforced by a reminder this morning of the tragic
Firstly, just how professional and committed all our colleagues
were and how well they came across on the documentary. Their desire
to help and save people's lives just shone through.
And, indeed, it's not too dramatic to say they were placing
their lives on the line in Japan, as colleagues do every day and as
our colleagues in Hampshire did a year ago.
I am sure their families and friends felt justifiably proud -
certainly I did. I am also sure that whilst there will be a range
of different emotions in the families of James and Alan in
Hampshire today, pride will also be one of them.
Secondly, it struck me how much our search and rescue colleagues
just got on with the job in hand and how, because the size of the
challenge and the need for speed was just so obvious, they just
used their initiative (backed up by their training) to do what they
saw as necessary. Thankfully no-one was injured (though Bryn the
dog did get a nasty cut) but it seemed an incredibly dangerous set
of circumstances that our team was dealing with.
It also struck me that we deployed people to the other
side of the world, just hours after an earthquake and tsunami, with
aftershocks going on around them, crawling through buildings that
could potentially collapse at any time. Yet we all recognised this
was the job in hand.
The importance and - now worldwide - significance of our search
and rescue role was another thing that really struck home and
I think how we provide the capability for this developing role in
Greater Manchester is likely to be something we return to thinking
about in coming months.
Thanks to all the team who represented us all so well and came
over as consummate professionals last night. Could I ask us all
just to spare a moment today to reflect on the families of James
Shears and Alan Bannon one year on.