They are professional bakers, tailors, painters or simply students – but for Syrians, they are often the only helpers available. Their commitment is gaining international attention. An outstanding rescue of a two-month-old baby that had been buried under rubble for twelve hours after a bombing attack caused a stir after news reports on channels like CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera. “Every fire department’s job is to save human lives under extreme conditions. What the White Helmets do every day, however, is far beyond what we can imagine. To work under the hazardous conditions that currently prevail in Syria, often without suitable equipment, deserves our greatest respect. We are thus very happy to have won the White Helmets as a sponsor for the 2015 Conrad Dietrich Magirus Prize,” said Andreas Klauser, interim CEO of Magirus.
Visible sign for peaceful coexistence among nations.
But as sponsors, the White Helmets did not only hand over the trophies. They acted as a visible sign for peaceful coexistence among nations. It was obvious at the awards ceremony how impressively the Conrad Dietrich Magirus Prize unites people throughout the world. In a moving moment, the Syrian rescue workers presented the awards to their colleagues from Iran, Turkey and Brazil, demonstrating how the prize and the voluntary commitment of all participants overrides all political hurdles.
Some 3000 civilians from every walk of life and social class make up the Syria Civil Defence (SCD) volunteer disaster relief organisation. Its protective headgear gives the group its name, White Helmets. The volunteers respond to the aftermath of terror in a total of 110 centres throughout the country in such places as Aleppo, Idlib, Latakia, Hama and Damascus. “The conflict in Syria is continually intensifying, which constantly worsens conditions for the population. In some residential areas, up to 50 bombs and mortars land every day,” says Raed Saleh, head of the Syria Civil Defence. The broad commitment of the White Helmets extends from electronic early warning systems and the planning of evacuations, to fire-fighting missions and the rescue of injured persons, all the way to the set-up of emergency supplies including medical support. Since their foundation in 2013, the White Helmets have rescued over 40,000 lives.
Professional equipment for fire department missions in disaster areas.
The Syria Civil Defence is highly committed; its funding is often limited. This is why Magirus is donating a DLK 18-12 CC turntable ladder to the volunteer organization. Built on an Iveco-Magirus 80-16, this model is highly practical due to its manoeuvrability and compact design. The turntable ladder with a maximum rescue height of 24 metres was given a complete overhaul to prepare it for use in Syria. It had previously provided many years of reliable service for its owners, the city of Blomberg in North Rhine-Westphalia.
“The right equipment often decides over life and death. The most courageous helpers can do nothing if they cannot reach the victims. Equipment like the Magirus turntable ladder is elementary for our work. We are very grateful for this support,” said Raed Saleh.
German Fire Department Association honors White Helmets.
The German Fire Department Association have given the White Helmets a medal for international cooperation for their incredible courage and untiring readiness to help others. The award stands for achievements in international cooperation with German fire departments and their associations.
Syria’s largest NGO is comprised of civilians and is often the only hope for millions of people in the war zone. Nearly 100 volunteers have paid for this commitment with their lives.