Upon his jubilant return from the 2008 ISA Asia Pacific Arboricultural Conference in Brisbane to HK yesterday evening, the Station Manager has only got to learn in grief of the Sichuan Earthquake which has killed thousands of innocent people on 13.5.08. The news was heart breaking indeed.
On the other hand, ISA HK/China has been thinking of what we can do to help the situation with us having no funding & practically without any tangible resources. We have been thinking of how Arborists can deliver our service to meet emergency of this kind.
One idea has come up. We think our tree climbers, especially our Certified Tree Workers (CTW), can get involved positively with the in-situ rescuing work.
To begin with, it is a pre-requisite requirement in ISA that any CTW has to become a qualified First Aider certified by a mandatory institute such as the Red Cross or St. John Ambulance, as well as passing an Aerial Rescue Training, before any of them is allowed to take the CTW exam. In a nutshell, any CTW is also a recognized Fist Aider & has been trained to rescue somebody from height, e.g. on top of a tree.
In an earthquake situation where the rescuers would have to run through rubbles with risk of falling anytime, it is noticed that most of the rescuers do not carry a Fall Protection device, like tree climber has to do at all times while on a tree with rope & hardness. In reality, walking through rubbles is no more difficult than to manoeuvre among branches on a tree & the contact between the tree climber & the tree may be even less than that of the rescuer with their feet on rubbles. Tree climbers would sometimes just dangle on rope to do there work on height.
One significant advantage of the tree climber to carry out Search & Rescue in an earthquake situation would be that the tree climber would understand how to tie himself in at all times against falling with a central & high Tie-in Point. Rescuers would not be trained in this manner. Their body weight on rubbles may crush the victims below since their weight is supported by the rubbles only. The rescuers are also always in danger of falling if he would try to tackle height without Fall Protection, whereas the tree climber would first tie-in on a designated height, such as the hook of a crane or some secure protruding object of a structure, before going in with full body hardness. The tree climbers can certainly help to search & rescue in places where ordinary rescuers can not reach with their tree climbing skill. Also, all tree climbers especially our CTW's, are physically fit personnel with First Aid & Aerial Rescue knowledge. If not them, who else better?
ISA HK/China does not know how to relay this message to the Chinese authorities & maybe they are receiving mountainous help from all around the world already to do their existing work. However, this proposal is here to advise our Station Members that our CTW's are there to help save our victims in dangerous situation. May also the world see the other benefit of our tree climbers & to use them whenever they are required besides climbing trees.