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Red-handed

RedR - RedR has been bombarded with enquiries, offers of help and donations since the Tsunami truck.Antony Oliver reports on the charity's response.

From the moment news of the Tsunami broke on Boxing Day, RedR staff were pressed into action, contacting aid agencies, answering recruitment needs, fielding enquiries from the public and media and preparing training assistance for those on assignment.

'We were overwhelmed with calls which the whole team just got on with answering, ' said RedR chief executive Bobby Lambert. 'Initially the holiday period meant working from wherever they were.' The Tsunami response was the fi rst real test for RedR's new on-line recruitment database, which has proved itself a capable tool for both those trying to place staff and those offering services: it has been particularly useful for remote working outside the office. This system was launched following last year's merger of RedR and the International Health Exchange (IHE).

Following the huge mobilisation, around 50 professionals have been placed by RedR offi ces around the world - 10 by RedR India, 12 by RedR Australia, 24 by RedR London, 2 by RedR Canada and 2 from RedR New Zealand.

Some 1,000 engineers put themselves forward to help, swelling the RedR/IHE database of available engineers to around 4,000. Thousands more called to offer any help they could.

However, it is noticeable that following this disaster there have been a relatively small number of requests from agencies for engineers to work in the tsunami-hit region.

This is thought to be a combination of professional skills already being available in the Tsunami hit countries, plus the diffi culty aid agencies have had tackling such a geographically diverse disaster.

But now the fi st wave of relief is complete, and with such huge amounts of cash pledged by the international community, agencies are also thought to be assessing the situation and planning their own longer term responses to the situation.

'Agencies perhaps don't fully recognise the value of the people on our register, ' said Rod Macdonald. 'They could be using RedR members to do their strategic assessment: they would probably do a better job.' Certainly RedR is aware that it needs to manage properly the expectations of all those engineers who have put forward offers of help as, realistically, very few will be either suitable or able to be sent on assignment with an agency.

This week Bobby Lambert set off for Sri Lanka for a factfi nding mission to enable RedR to plan and assess the likely staffi g and training needs in the future. RedR will remain very busy for years to come as a result of the Tsunami.

As well as its staff recruitment role, RedR is already working hard to give technical support to local engineers and agencies working in the region. This has included training in basic engineering, logistics and management to assist the relief effort.

However it took the decision to not do any fundraising on the back of the tsunami - instead it referred all donations to the Disasters Emergency Committee.

That said, a large number of donations have been received - over £20K made direct to RedR - and this cash is being used to support the fl edgling RedR India operation which has had to raise its game significantly over the last few weeks.

Antony Oliver is a trustee of RedR/IHE

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