How to save lives in East Ghouta: Donated machinery gives people buried in rubble a chance to survive


October 28, 2015

Stories of determined but underequipped Civil Defense personnel risking their lives to to save civilians trapped under the rubble that remains of their homes, often with little more than their bare hands to rely on, are one of the constants of the Syrian war.

Amidst an absence of major humanitarian institutions in the blockaded suburbs, a branch of the Al-Sham Humanitarian Foundation (funded by the Qatar Eid Charity) in Outer Damascus recently provided the Outer Damascus Civil Defense with refurbished heavy machines under a one-year loan agreement.

The machinery means that people trapped under the rubble of a collapsed building will have a better chance of survival, Muadh Bweidani, director of the Al-Sham branch in Outer Damascus tells Abdulrahman Salah.

The director described an incident in East Ghouta that helped inspire the gift: “Those who who were trapped under the rubble stayed alive for hours and spoke with members of the Civil Defense, but as time went on most of them died from being trapped for so long as a result of the lack of heavy machinery to free them.”

Q: Where did the idea to repair machinery and give it to East Ghouta’s Civil Defense come from?

The idea for this project came after the Civil Defense in Duma and Arbin was unable to rescue people trapped under the rubble for two days [after a recent bombing].

Those who were trapped under the rubble stayed alive for hours and spoke with members of the Civil Defense, but as time went on most of them died from being trapped for so long as a result of the lack of heavy machinery to free them.

Among other stories like this, there was an entire family of 19 people who died because the Civil Defense could not rescue them.

 Machinery given to the East Ghouta Civil Defense on Sunday. Photo Courtesy of Outer Damascus Civil Defense.

Q: Does the Civil Defense have any equipment like this, or will this be the first time they use it?

This is the first time that the Civil Defense in blockaded East Ghouta will use this kind of equipment, and hopefully this step will greatly change the situation. I expect a quantum leap in the future work of the Civil Defense.

Q: Knowing that East Ghouta is blockaded, how was the heavy machinery brought in?

These machines were broken down and hidden in warehouses inside Ghouta. We bought them from their owners, repaired them and gave them to the Civil Defense. Start to finish, the project took two months to complete.

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