The success of search and rescue activities depends on strong logistics support as well as qualified and trained personnel. AKUT is the first rescue team approved by the United Nations for its qualification, equipment and the capacity among other similar organizations around the world. In all our operations, we carry the logo of the United Nations on our clothes. If we look at where we came, AKUT is a miracle created by co-energy of the volunteers, supporters and our own resources without receiving any penny of the state or the government. This feature distinguishes Akut from all public and private institutions and organizations of endless budgets.
How many people were with AKUT when you started? Did you reach the desired number and qualifications?
After two young climbers from Yildiz Technical University lost their lives in a mountain accident in November 1994 we foresaw that mountain accident would be more in the future and decided to do something about it as a handful of climbers. We found it even hard to arrange 7th person for the administrative board of AKUT that we formally established on 14 March1996. The first year, we continued our work with a core team of approximately 20 people and this number increased in time. Istanbul and Antalya Teams of AKUT had approximately 120 volunteers on August 17, the Marmara Earthquake. Today there are more than 30 staff and more than 1,600 volunteers.
Old and experienced volunteers of AKUT are highly competent and well-equipped as an attribute since they went through numerous training and actual operations over the years. In addition, as an NGO constantly evolving and growing, we always try to increase the capabilities of all AKUT volunteers to the highest level via a regular and continuous training in order to develop our new volunteers participating in AKUT.
How many branches do you have in cities and are the staff here experts on earthquake and disaster?
AKUT has more than 30 teams today. Our teams are not only in the provinces, but in some districts such as Marmaris, Bodrum, Fethiye, so we define more than 30 regions.
Besides, AKUT’s mandate is not limited to only natural disasters such earthquake or flood. We have specialized volunteers who can work in almost every accident, emergency and contingency that human life is in danger such as drowning cases, loss events, traffic accidents, forest fires, mountain accidents, the rope and higher technical rescues, paragliding, rafting, canyoning and all kinds of accidents that may occur in nature
Each team is equipped with training and materials about debris-rescue, a bitter truth of our country. In addition, they are prepared for emergency situations that may occur regarding to geographical and physical requirements of their regions.
For example, our Bingol team is specialized in transport of patients suffering from the villages to the city’s hospitals in case of emergency due to the closed village roads mainly during the winter months through vehicles that can go in the snow.
Teamssuch asAntalya,Marmaris,Olympos is specialized to respond the accidentsthat occurin the fielddue to the intensive tourismmobility during the summer months.
Rize team in the region full of steep slopes due to the steep terrain also specializes in floods one side and hydraulic shear-separation systems used in traffic accidents on the other.
However, Bodrum and Marmaris teams have developed themselves on forest fires intervention.
Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara, teams are equipped with debris rescue.
Nigde, Kayseri, Bursa teams are specialized in mountain rescues.
Finally, every AKUT team develop and prepare themselves in a way depends on kind of emergency situation, accidents and disasters likely to occur in their region about such topics as logistics, training, human resources, and planning issues
If you wish we’d like to do an evaluation from general to specific … there are teams doing search and rescue work in the world like you… If we compare institutions with AKUT by means of their technical and technological facilities what can you say?
We also have technologies used in developed countries but of course, the number of our material is much less by number. After using the rescue cameras, the Americans had left us for 1999 Earthquake, in Van Earthquake we excluded them from operational material list and gave them away. There are probably dozens of rescue cameras in American inventories and they are not using them more than 3 years. We are even having second hand search cameras used for 13 years. Ultimately, however, that is Turkey’s conditions. We use everything very sparingly and try to protect AKUT’s material as far as we can. We strive to use our limited sources in most efficient manner
The success of search and rescue activities depends on strong logistics support as well as qualified and trained personnel. AKUT is the first rescue team approved by the United Nations for its qualification, equipment and the capacity among other similar organizations around the world. In all our operations, we carry the logo of the United Nations on our clothes. If we look at where we came, AKUT is a miracle created by co-energy of the volunteers and supporters and our own resources without any penny of the state or the government. This feature distinguishes Akut from all public and private institutions and organizations with endless budgets.
Where do you provide economic resources of AKUT?
AKUT’s main source has been a variety of support and donations from the Turkish Nation since the very first day. These are wide variety of sources that can be cash, donations, product, service or second hand materials. In addition to these sources,
we provide training and consulting to organizations on Emergency Management at AKUT Education and Research Institute and try to gain income for the association through some trainings and practices requiring to work at heights over AKUT commercial enterprise. The biggest strength is our voluntariness. Everyone is working as a volunteer in AKUT. The extraordinary secret of our success is the fact that we don’t pay any cost for qualified human resources, which is the most valuable and the highest multiplier input of all the processes.
It is known that Earthquake causes deep trauma on the psychology of individuals and communities. Turkey is a country with a high risk Earthquake. Therefore, awareness of citizens is essential in our opinion. What kind of work do you do as AKUT to raise the awareness of the citizens?
After the 1999 earthquake, we gave priority to awareness-raising activities for society on Disasters and Emergency Situation within our operational facility and capability.
We try to provide all the support we can to be able to become resistant society to disasters and conscious individuals about this issue. We deserve the place of contemporary civilization with legal regulations, institutional cooperation, urban texture, infrastructure and superstructure
We visited twice the entire Turkey by our Mobile Earthquake Education trucks. We will travel to all districts within the scope of 4th phase of our project to start in 2013.
We explain the ways to prevent from earthquakes, floods and fires and overcome disasters with the least damage within this 8-10 year-long project at all the districts of the country
We try to raise awareness and inform society from seven to seventy by working together on activities such as educational films played a very valuable artists, educational booklets with distribution of 1.5 million, awareness seminars reaching more than 100,000citizen and mostly students in 2012, earthquake simulator and children’s musical theatre.
We know very well that without raising the awareness of the citizens; it is impossible to achive a disaster resistant Turkey in our dreams that our people aren’t dying now because of preventable reasons.
You are putting out your lives in danger as an example institution providing volunteer service to humanity. You are the most beautiful example of working in one heart. Don’t you want to value this knowledge and experience in all schools especially in primary education as part of the trainig?
We have a training module which is called High School Disaster Awareness Training Project. We teach high school students to be prepared for disasters and protection from disaster losses in this tutorial of two lesson hours per week with a continuous period of one or two semesters. They gain experience that will create differences and awarenesses in their lives and acquire new capabilities. Schools such as German High School, Austrian School, Koç High School, TED Eskişehir College, Sisli Terekki High School take this training from AKUT.
We carry out various social responsibility projects in AKUT University Student Societies project with 16-17 university student and our friends by organizing blood and organ donation, environmental and waste cleanups or books and stationery aid.
We help them to be developed as entrepreneur individuals problem solving about the issues of the country.
We teach the 9-12 age group of brothers and sisters the values and culture of safe life for AKUT through our AKUT Children’s Academy projects.
AKUT’s each local team carry out large or small projects in their own region.
Last question: As AKUT, what are you going to introduce us as a difference in the coming years? Will you share with us AKUT’s dream of Turkey?
AKUT’s and our dream of all is to live in disaster resistant Turkey where people aren’t dying because of preventable reasons. We are fulfilling our own duties to reach such a Turkey. People are very valuable. We see people above all other things. We will continue to serve all of humanity with our institutional structure of AKUT Association, Foundation, Sports Club, Business Administration, Institute, Children’s Academy, Publishing House, University Communities, High School Disaster Training Courses and Clubs.