06.12.2020

FACE TO FACE WITH HAMMER #12 – AN INTERVIEW WITH RYSZARD BRZOZOWSKI

Ryszard Brzozowski from the Gryfino Rescue Association talks about the multifunctionality of today’s rescuers, dedication and work in the missing persons search section. Our protagonist takes us behind the scenes and tells us what helps him to find people and what he thinks about the work of the seers.

Rysiek, you are head of the search section of the Gryfino Rescue Team. Please tell us about your association, how many people it consists of, what do you do on daily basis, what are the sections of your group?

RB: Our association consists of about 20 people. We deal with prevention, which includes learning first aid and safe behaviour e.g. during holidays. We deal with prevention, which includes learning first aid and safe behaviour e.g. during holidays. At present, the main section being developed is the search group and school rescue groups in schools throughout the province. We aim to ensure that our trainees are able to provide professional help to those in need before the emergency services arrive.

You are the organiser of the County First Aid Championship. Tell us – can you illustrate the situation – is there a growing awareness of first-aid in Poland? What is the biggest problem with regard to first aid in general?

RB: Awareness is growing, but when I talk to people I know that they mainly fear the unknown. We are afraid of giving first aid and that is natural. Most cases of SCA (sudden cardiac arrest) happen at home and then it is probably the hardest to deal with, because we are haggling with stronger emotions. But overall, it is getting better and better because young people are creative and sometimes surprise us. If we do not teach first aid in schools from an early age, we will not achieve the desired results.

On your website you have this quote: ‘For the world, we are only people, for the people we save, we are the whole world’. Does this quote reflects reality? Does it happen that someone does not want to be found or interferes with your work and rescue?

RB: To be honest, I do not really like this quote, it is pompous and sounds pretty proud. On the other hand though, I know that people waiting for our help, especially the families of missing persons, often place great hopes in our aid. We always try to give our best, 150% of our capabilities and find the missing person, despite the weather conditions or time of day, which most often hinder our work. We have never seen anyone intentionally disturbing our search operations or be aggressive towards us, although I suspect that this day will come. During my service at the WOPR, for example, I encountered aggression many times, often completely unjustified, driven by alcohol or drugs. Sometimes it seems that someone does not want to be found, but we try to thwart these plans and find those persons, although this does not always work.

Let us focus on the Search Section, which has been operating in your Association under your wings for quite some time now. It is said that almost 20 000 people in Poland are declared missing every year. However, there is increasing efficiency in finding these people (over 70%). What are most common reasons for dissapearances?

People are considered missing for various reasons. A common cause is old age and related illnesses, such as dementia, where people leave home and it is simply difficult for them to return. There are also teenagers running from home or suicide attempts which, despite my years of working in the rescue service, I don’t think I will ever understand. There are of course also disappearances with so-called third party involvement, over which we have no control.

What helps and improves your search for a missing person?

RB: The SIRON application, created by Błażej Bursza from the “Szukamy i Ratujemy” (Search and Rescue) association, is particularly helpful. This application is very helpful. It can be used by many people, including civilians, in a short period of time, as it can be downloaded for free from the Google Store in a few seconds (http://gpr.org.pl/aplikacja-i-siron/). The application allows us to create search sectors and keep track of teams in the field. The rest is the coordination of different services, helpful people and equipment available on a daily basis.

How do you view the activities of all detectives and seers in the context of your work? Is it worth seeking their help?

RB: I have never had much experience with detectives, so it is difficult for me to judge that. As for the clairvoyants, it is always the family of the missing person who calls the clairvoyant, seeking additional help. Close ones explore various possibilities and look for help wherever possible to find the missing person. Of course, we check every lead and we understand that issue.

What if one of my relatives goes missing? When to raise the alarm and how to proceed?

RB: This depends on the situation and context. Of course, if you have not had frequent lack of contact with your loved ones, and now suddenly feel that something is wrong, you should report it as soon as possible. The main service is the police, whose officers will guide you and your activities, either personally or over the phone. The most important thing is to stay calm and keep composure, although I know it is very difficult.

You do a lot of work for prevention, you try to raise awareness, train, prevent. How can disappearances be prevented?

RB: We try to train as much as we can and where we can. If we teach people how to behave, then it is easier for us to work and look for missing persons. It would be good to learn the basics such as first aid, when still young, and then to harvest these positive efects, which is standard in the West and still is in its infancy in Poland. Disappearances are most often impossible to prevent, because they are often linked to many factors over which we have no direct influence – I am referring to dementia and mental disorders.

In the work of a rescuer, equipment is getting more and more important. In fact, even the best rescuer is said to be unable to make full use of his skills and knowledge without proper equipment and apparatus. Besides, the development of technology, drones, thermal imaging – how does all this affect the development of rescue? What is essential in your work?

RB: Technology is entering into every area of our lives. Everyone carries a phone in their pocket. In our work, these innovations are also being used, not to mention advanced medical equipment. A tablet, laptop or phone are indispensable elements. The search application operates on these devices, and actions are planned on the computer. We are currently planning to obtain a drone, which will be very helpful in our search, but it is quite expensive so we must rely on the help of sponsors. To sum up, use of technology is becoming vital not only in rescue operations, but in every area of life. So it is absolutely accurate to say that the best rescuer without equipment will not help.

The Gryfino Rescue Association operates on a voluntary basis. For almost 4 years now it has been supporting, educating and helping those in need. You can support their work!
More at:    https://zrzutka.pl/p739te
Account no.: 86 1600 1462 1836 8885 3000 0001
Gryfińskie Stowarzyszenie Ratownicze
Ul. Sportowa 1a
74-100 Gryfino

It seems that nowadays, in times of advancing invigilation, when every step is monitored and a person almost cannot act without leaving a trace in applications or banking – conscious hiding, “disappearing” is even more difficult than finding this person. How is it in reality?

RB: There is indeed something about it, but if someone consciously wants to disappear, I think it is possible. During many years of my service I recall only one such case where we suspected that someone consciously wanted to disappear. It looked like a suicide: a farewell letter, a wallet and documents left. However, to this day there is no trace. That person was never found, nor has he left any other trace. It’s hard to look for someone who wants to dissapear.

I have an impression that a search-and-rescue worker has to combine qualifications of many professions in order to work well, be a rescuer, a psychologist, as well as a navigator and coordinator forming and managing a team.

RB: A lifeguard of any profession or specialisation is multifunctional. He or she must be able to operate GPS, radiotelephone or medical equipment. Managing the whole team is one thing, but as a planner and manager at the same time, I cannot always stay with the victim. On the ground, therefore, it often happens that someone takes over the action to coordinate medical and evacuation work, which is consulted with the headquarters, but it is difficult to be everywhere and see everything. I try to get into the field of search wherever possible, but I also like to challenge my people so that natural leaders emerge.

Finally, tell us what gets you going in your daily life and what you do in your so-called free time?

RB: I try to spend my free time with my loved ones or in the forest, practicing bushcraft. Here, I must mention my girlfriend, who is an oasis of patience and bravely endures when the next alarm rings. She knows that for example I might leave the cinema, but does not know when I will return.

Do you have any suggestions, advice for HAMMEROMANIAKS for the upcoming autumn-winter period? Maybe something based on your experience?

RB: I recommend that you prepare yourself well before any hikes or mushroom picking, have a plan and preferably never go unaccompanied. Always have your phone charged. I also encourage you to contact your loved ones frequently, especially our seniors, so that we do not find ourselves in undesirable situations such as their disappearance.

Talked and prepared by Mateusz Byś

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