Firefighter from Thorpe Bay disusses "humbling" Serbia mission

Echo: Terry Webb Terry Webb

TACKLING fires is seen as dangerous enough.

But for one firefighter from Thorpe Bay, dropping everything at a minute’s notice to help in disaster zones around the world is all part of the job for him.

Over the past 15 years, Terry Webb has visited countries across the globe devastated by natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis to help save lives of locals.

In his most recent mission, the 48-year-old divisional officer was dashed out to Serbia to aid those who have had their livelihood’s destroyed by terrible floods.

During his ten days in Serbia, Terry led a team of firefighters and rescuers from Britain and other countries such as Germany, Norway and Sweden to carry out the first part of the lifesaving operation.

The father-of-three said his experience in Serbia was “humbling”.

“The floods they have suffered are the worst on record,” he said.

“It was clear to see the disaster they have left behind.

“It is not the first time I have been sent out to help in a flood affect zone as I went to Central America a few years ago to do something similar, but these floods were awful to see.

“So much of the infrastructure has been lost and agriculture is still a big industry out there but lots of the crops have been ruined and animals drowned, so it is having an affect on their livelihood.

“Being able to help the local Serbian people get back on their feet is such a wonderful feeling though and they were all so appreciative of our help.”

Once out there, Terry acted as team leader for the rescue teams coming in from the other countries.

Terry explained: “My job was to put them to work and help wherever it was needed.

“We had the assistance of international bodies like the EU, UN and the Serbian government.

“During the job you are working 18 hour shifts a day with breaks included in the other six hours you get off.

“It is tough but it is what you have to do.”

Now Terry is back home, more teams are out in Serbia starting the rebuilding process.

After this stage is completed, Terry said he hopes to go back out and visit again, this time in a non-lifesaving role.

“I made some good friends out there,” he said.

“When you’re on these missions you do not get a chance to go round and look at the surroundings as the focus is on lifesaving.

“But now I’ve been once I really would like to go back out and see more of the country and meet up with the friends I made.”

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A PASSION for saving lives and helping those whose are devastated by natural disasters is the main driver behind Terry Webb’s work.

In 1999, Terry started his first mission abroad in a rescue role.

Since then he has built his way up from a rescue technician all the way to the man giving out orders and directions for other lifesavers as a team leader.

His work has seen the dad of three from Thorpe Bay rush out to the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Haiti and Turkey to help in disaster zones there.

Terry said: “I have a passion for this work.

“I think it is important that we should be helping. We are all humans and when others are involved in these disasters, they need our help.

“It is not just abroad where I am sent out. I have been called to situations in Britain to assist with things like flooding in Surrey.

“There is a level of complexity with every one as there are different problems to tackle and challenges to face.

“But the end result is always very humbling.”

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