GREECE: Rescue team saves dummy

It often comes as a pleasant surprise to discover modern universities do not restrict their activities to exclusively academic matters but branch into areas that have deeper and broader social repercussions. One such is the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki that supports a large number of non-academic activities.

One of these tackles possible natural and/or man-made disasters with a fully equipped and trained disasters management team. The team is comprised of 29 members, 24 university staff (14 women and 10 men) and five students (four men and one woman).

They planned and successfully carried out a training exercise for the rescue of a trapped person in the building of the university headquarters last Wednesday. The event was visible from a large number of places in the city.

The important role of the trapped person was assigned to Telis, a dummy resembling a human being and very much part of the team's equipment. Telis is a diminutive of Aristotelis, the ancient Greek philosopher whose name has been given to the university.

The exercise was carried out in collaboration with the more skilled crisis management group of the General Defense Secretariat, a volunteer organisation.

"The aim of the exercise is the continuous training of the team for the effective dealing of possible future disasters' said university Rector Anastasios Manthos, who followed the development of the exercise together with other city safety officials, suggesting there would be many more such exercises in future.

Such initiatives cannot be stressed too strongly, particularly at the present time when the people of Haiti are facing a tremendous test as a result of the horrendous earthquake. Similarly constituted and trained teams have been able to offer some help to the hugely afflicted unfortunate people.