HERO Scots rescuers are preparing to jet out to disaster stricken Haiti after a massive earthquake ravaged the Caribbean island.
A 15-strong team from Fife-based International Rescue Corps were last night finalising plans to fly into the disaster zone as the death toll mounts.
Julie Ryan said their advanced equipment could help make all the difference on the ground.
She said: “We have an arrangement with the airlines, the equipment is all weighed, logged and tagged already, and it will go on the same plane as the crew.
“We have a thermal imaging camera, and we have another camera that we can feed into rubble to find people who are trapped.“The team also has a CO2 detector that can find people who are still breathing, and we have a device that can detect sound.
“We can even hear people tapping who are trapped under collapsed buildings.
“It’s unlikely they have this equipment in Haiti, unless their fire services have kit like that, but it’s unlikely.
“We’re always prepared, we could get the call at any time, then it’s all go.
“The main problem is actually getting over there – there’s no flights direct from Europe so we would have to via the US or the Dominican Republic.”
The team are just one of a number of experienced Scots rescue groups that are mobilising to answer the desperate call of the Haitian government, after the magnitude 7.0 quake devastated the capital.
Staff from Mercy Corps in Edinburgh are also expected to arrive today to assess the food crisis, broken-down infrastructure and crippled communications on the poor island nation.
Ross Hornsey, spokesman for the group, which is engaged in operations across the globe, said: “We have a number of professionals on our team who are experienced in particular with earthquakes, and worked in Indonesia last year, and China and Pakistan in 2008.
“They arrive tomorrow afternoon, and rather than the initial rescue effort, our initial phase is to assess food distribution, how much shelter is needed and look at the infrastructure.
“We’ll determine where the greatest needs are and how we can improve the situation.
“The problem with Haiti is that the situation was pretty dire in the first place.
“The immediate solutions are very important, but after the story is over, the international community can’t forget there is a very real need to assess long-term problems.
“We need to improve the quality of life and livelihoods after the actual event, and that starts from day one.”