Tracking the good deeds of the Hellenic Rescue Team of Samos

Less than two months ago, right after a big earthquake hit the Greek island of Samos, the team of MarineTraffic was activated to offer assistance to our fellow station owners on the island, who are actually operating in the branches of the Hellenic Rescue Team of Samos.

“The moment we realised what happened, AIS Network Team sent an email to the HRT Samos to make sure everyone was safe and sound. Having in mind the potential disasters an earthquake of this magnitude could have caused, we felt the need to see if there was a way we could be of any assistance at the time,” said Anastassis Touros, AIS Network Team Leader at MarineTraffic.

Thankfully, only part of the technical equipment was destroyed. Following the powerful earthquake that shook the island on October 31, a tsunami swept both radios at the marina of Karlovasi away. Those radios were used to support the communication between the Operations Manager and the team’s vessels when at sea, so with the aim of supporting the admirable search and rescue operations carried out in their area of responsibility, a VHF Marine Transceiver and a Marine VHF Transceiver GPS Antenna were delivered to the Greek Rescue Team by MarineTraffic, as a way to actively show our assistance.

When asked how they experienced the tragic event and how this affected the remarkable work they do, Head of Hellenic Rescue Team of Samos, Dimitris Kalatzis told us, “This earthquake was an unprecedented disaster for us if we consider it’s high intensity; small earthquakes in Samos are not rare, though this time the damage created in constructions or roads was huge. And of course, what was really shocking was the fatal incident with the two teenagers in the city of Samos. Our team immediately set up a camp at the Karlovasi stadium, where we were all on standby for one month after the disaster.”

The team’s determination and hard work outline the key role of Hellenic Rescue teams in developing solutions during a crisis. Not only did they offer their services to help with the operations of state actors, and with the evacuation of local churches but also assisted with anything the residents of Samos needed. They even started working closely with a licensed psychologist in order to be able to provide assistance to the victims of the earthquake too.

“This natural phenomenon taught us a lesson; something we should all have in mind – it only takes a few seconds to lose everything, be left with nothing, just like that!” said Mr. Karatzis, highlighting the importance of feeling grateful for what we have, and humane towards other people.

But why did we reach out to them specifically? Most of our terrestrial AIS stations are operated by volunteers like the HRT Samos who work in partnership with MarineTraffic and make us feel proud.

The Hellenic Rescue Team of Samos has been supporting MarineTraffic by hosting three coastal AIS stations of our network since April 2019.

Mr. Kalatzis remembers, “The idea of ​​our cooperation started after some of our members had participated in a training as part of an exchange program hosted by the Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue.”

The aim of this exchange program was the exchange of experiences and practices that the participants implement in their countries and the improvement of their educational and operational level, in order to reach useful results and conclusions.

“This was where we got to experience how MarineTraffic contributes to the successful outcome of a rescue operation at sea, based on information provided by AIS on ships; in this case, on two inflatable rescue boats,” Mr. Kalatzis continues.

The installation of the AIS stations on the island of Samos was decided after a complete study of the local maritime area and based on the careful selection of points, where these stations could be able to cover most of the island geographically.

MarineTraffic now operates over 4,500 terrestrial AIS stations globally and this number keeps rising day by day as we continue to improve our global coverage.

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