In the 80’s Brett Harwood (a US paramedic) started a School of Primary Health (SPHC) in Belize. He attended the SPHC in Guatemala and taught the emergency medicine course in several SPHC schools. They had 15 primary health care workers serving in villages in Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. They also ran the surgical wing in the Belmopan (Belize capital) hospital for 5 years where Brett directed the project. They had 27 YWAM staff consisting of surgeons, MD’s, nurses, lab technicians and three PHC workers serving in the maternity ward and mobile clinics. In Guatemala the PHC workers were involved with civilian medical evacuation work, which began Brett’s interest in “disaster” response.
The war in Guatemala so polarised the nation that when the military attempted to bring medical aid to civilians, the guerrillas would shoot the helicopters down. In 1986 Brett and his team submitted a proposal to the military that they would provide medivac workers if the military provided the helicopter. The military agreed and the team were off. After making agreements with the opposing forces they were able to work in the war zone. Following this time, they began to respond to “local” disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes in Central America.
In 1999, after helping to establish RescueNet in Australia, Brett retired from RescueNet due to health issues sustained in the 9/11 disaster.
The aim of RescueNet is to respond to disasters within the shortest amount of time possible, to help stabilise the lives of those affected in the very best way we can.
RescueNet is international and broadly-based. Currently, we have an office in Canberra Australia, Las Vegas in the U.S, Heerde in Holland and Tauranga New Zealand. We are looking to expand into many, many other nations and continents including Africa, Central & South America, and Asia, so we are able to deploy quickly into any area of the world.
In Australia by itself, no, but RescueNet is a division of the Australian Mercy Service (AM) (ABN 84 008 643 258), which is both a registered charity, and an aid and development organization. All RescueNet finances are audited as part of the AM annual audit. Donations to RescueNet through AM are tax deductible in Australia, the United States and Canada. To find out more click here
Yes, you must have successfully completed a Discipleship Training School (DTS) and you do need to have a current First Aid/CPR certificate. This affords us time to build on that training, and it also helps us keep the course fees as low as possible.
You are also required to familiarise yourself with the manual before the course (which will take about 20 hours) because this affords us time for more practical activities.
For those who have not completed a DTS, but possess great certification and skills and would like to deploy with us, we are currently putting together a list in the hope we will work a way of having you deploy with us in the future.
If you would like to participate in our next Introductory Course, you’ll need to complete an Introductory Course Application Form and include a signed Release and Indemnity Form and a Disclaimer Form.
Here is an Introductory Course Application Form for you to download:
You can download a Release and Indemnity Form here:
You can also download a Disclaimer Form here:
…….fill in the Application Form, sign the Release and Indemnity and the Disclaimer Form, photocopy your DTS and current First Aid certificates and send them to us with your AUS$200.00 registration fee. Please understand that acceptance into this introductory course is dependent on the submission of these five documents. If you don’t know how to acquire a First Aid/CPR certificate, check your local St John Ambulance or Red Cross chapter. Call us if you get stuck and we will try to help you arrange it.
Once your deposit has been received, we require you to ‘register’ onto this RN website, so that you will be allowed to go ‘deeper’ nto the site to read or download the RN Manual, which you are required to familiarise yourself with before the course.
The course is two weeks long and offers a glimpse into the world of Emergency Relief. It covers many of the basic concepts of First Response Medicine, Search and Rescue, Radio Communications, Disaster Psychology, Fire Suppression, Disaster Childcare, Field Awareness and much more.
At the end of the course there are practical and theory assessment exercises to help us see what you’ve learned and the areas where you are needing further improvement. There is one written exercise that takes approximately one hour and one practical exercise that takes approximately three hours.
The written exercise helps us determine if you have been able to grasp and remember the important concepts of this introduction. You can rest easy – it is not a pass or fail exercise!
The practical exercise or hands-on ‘exam’ will bring together all of the skills you have learned during the course. Together as a team, all of the participants will enter a very intense, as real life as possible disaster scenario, under RescueNet leadership supervision.
As mentioned on the Introduction Page, we are not trying to deliberately frighten people, but we are also not playing games here. The environment in which we work can really be very intense and very dangerous. Therefore the aim is to simulate ‘on field’ experiences, to enable both the RescueNet Team and the participant time to assess if the participant is ready for this field of service.
We will do all we can to prepare you throughout the course for this final scenario. Remember, we are looking to add members to our increasing Team – not to frighten them off! Right from the very beginning and on throughout the course, you will engage into mini scenarios that are designed to help ‘cement’ parts of the introduction as we go along. They will start off easy and increase with intensity as we lead up to the final scenario. Again, this is not a pass or fail exercise. Here is a course outline for you to download:
The RescueNet leadership will then review your participation during the course, your written exam and your performance during the final scenario. We are not looking for perfection, but given the events that we respond to, plus the governmental, cultural, ethnical, and religious sensitivities that can be involved in any given deployment, each application is carefully discussed and prayed over, because we are looking for specific people who have the special giftings and ‘calling’ upon their lives to respond to large-scale crises.
In the first phase of their probationary period, the applicant is given a name badge, a cap and some shoulder decals, and they are then required to purchase some very basic uniform – a white epaulette shirt, some navy blue trousers, a black belt and a sturdy pair of black boots.
In the second phase of their probationary period, each applicant is issued with their official ID cards and they are then assisted to purchase the basics of their personal protective equipment (PPE). Their name is placed on a list of deployable personnel and they are contacted to deploy as the need arises.
Once they have successfully completed the second phase of their probationary period, they are elevated to become a full Team member. They are then assisted to purchase their full PPE and encouraged to join a local emergency service agency of their choosing, to enable their skills are maintained and further enhanced.
If either phase is not completed successfully you will be invited to repeat that phase to help you shore up the areas you may be having difficulty with.
There are various levels of equipment and gear you will need. Really though, it depends on which area you choose to specialise, if, you decide to specialize. Search and Rescue, Fire, Counseling, Medical, etc, all have special equipment that goes along with those skills. The very basic PPE – uniform, belt, boots, helmet, goggles, tools, etc, will cost somewhere around AUS$1,000.
While we are actively pursuing sponsorships for Team members, we are all still self-funded volunteers. Before deploying, you will need to purchase your own uniform and protective gear (PPE) and you will be responsible for your airfares and expenses during a deployment, which average out at about AUS$3,000 per deployment.
We are hoping that with some future corporate sponsorships, these fees will be reduced more and more as time goes on.
This is really hard to say because it depends on how many and when disasters occur, what type they are, how many team members are available, plus many other factors including how big it is and whether the affected nation is even calling for help. Given these factors, RescueNet will deploy as often a possible but currently, we’d like to think that we’d deploy around three times a year as a minimum. As RescueNet grows and our team size and skills grow, we will be able to respond to even more disasters, but we will not respond to each and every disaster that occurs.
No. If a ‘Red Alert’ is given and you are invited to deploy, we expect you to prayerfully consider your participation, but if you have other obligations (ministry, work, family, etc) that you simply can’t get away from, that’s perfectly fine – you don’t have to deploy. Having said that though, we would hope that you could deploy with us at least once every two years.
Conversely, if you can only deploy for a week or 10 days, that’s also fine – we’ll take your 10 days.
You always determine how often and for how long you deploy with us.
A deployment occurs once a disaster overwhelms a nation’s existing resources to deal with that event – thereby causing that nation to call for international assistance.
Every day a special Team of RescueNet workers are monitoring various websites and media outlets for the updates of disasters happening around the world. Once the affected nation calls for assistance, the RescueNet National Coordinator closest to the event contacts the Team members to see who is available to respond, and these members are then placed on ‘Standby’.
The National Coordinator then contacts the Board, advising them of the Team numbers and together prayerfull consideration is undertaken.
Once all are in agreement that the deployment should proceed, each member is asked to assemble to a port of departure (POD) or make their way to a Port of Arrival (POA) where they are given final instructions, re-familiarised with equipment as necessary, and then deployed into the event.
Disasters are, by very nature, largely unpredictable and unexpected. Responding during the first few days and weeks are critical for providing life-saving care. We often need to leave immediately upon notification of a disaster outbreak in order to arrive in a timely manner. This can be chaotic for responders and their families, but it is the nature of what we do.
Sometimes an advance team will go ahead and scout the area and make preparations for the team. This can give the rest of the team time to prepare, but only a couple days, and only sometimes.
We typically will know only the basics of our deployment when we leave. We will often have a contact in the area giving us information and will have some details about our initial location and mission… however this can change by the time we land and will likely change several times during our deployment. If we are traveling to an area you don’t feel safe in (and this will happen) you have the option to pray it through and decline.
Following the two week introduction course, RescueNet members are required to seek further training. On the basis that “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it”, we strongly encourage each team member to be actively engaged in a local emergency service agency of their choosing, to enable their skills to be maintained and further enhanced. That way, once they are deployed, each member’s skills are up to date and they are prepared and confident.
You will also be required to keep your First Aid/CPR certifications current at all times. Usually they will need to be renewed every 2 years. This is the basic level of emergency response.
Absolutely! On the field we need search and rescue teams (involving some medical,) trauma counselors, Team ”pastors’, fire fighters, equipment technicians, TRANSLATORS, logistical coordinators, and just generally organized, helpful people.
At home we need people to help coordinate everything for those who have deployed into a disaster. Administrators, Logisticians, communicators, people to arrange travel, or monitor weather and political updates – you’re all welcome and needed! It takes a LOT to send a team out, and we need people at home to make things happen on the field.
Please feel free to contact us for answers to any other questions you have.