Warrington firefighter's Bosnia flood mission

Firefighter's Bosnia flood mission

Flood water in one of the villages

One of the rescue attempts

John Turner, top right, with others who helped the rescue effort in Bosnia

First published in News

A WARRINGTON firefighter has said being part of the rescue team in Bosnia was difficult but very worthwhile.


John Turner was one of six from Cheshire flown out to the flood-hit European country and said in some villages the water was as far as the eye could see.


Torrential rain meant many families were stranded in their homes and John and the team provided the first aid they had received for four or five days.


John, who is part of Cheshire’s international search and rescue team, said he was alerted on May 16 he could be needed and 24 hours later he was in Sarajevo with the rest of the team and heading to the north of Bosnia.


The 41-year-old from blue watch at Warrington Fire Station added: “As we were moving up the country things were getting worse until we reached an area of total devastation.


“The floods affected an area the size of Ireland and it was quite a mountainous area where there had been a lot of landslides and mines from the war had been dislodged.


“But we’re going into an environment we have trained for and like any incident professionalism comes first and the people were so grateful of any help.”


The first day of the rescue operation saw around 20 people rescued by the Cheshire team with around 90 taken to safety by the UK team in total.


The language barrier made it difficult at times for the rescuers as well as battling 38 degree heat while they were kitted out in dry suits making their way through water two to three metres deep.


John added: “A lot of farmers didn’t want to leave their houses as they wanted to stay with their cattle and livestock because that’s their livelihood.


“We gave them food, water and medicines and towards the end of the rescue stage people were becoming very self-sufficient and one farmer just wanted help getting his engine for his boat.


“We were there for about seven days working shifts over 12 hour days which was very tiring but all the teams from the UK worked really well together and rescued more than 120 people in total.”

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