This post is in English because our sponsor is from the US.
Force protection is the most important factor when deploying on missions, whether is national or international deployments. PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is the essential part of this. Helmets, protective goggles, gloves and boots ans masks (not only because of C-19) are the normal set-up.
The normal TR helmet have been the standard issue construction helmet. They offer good protection if something is falling straight on top of you head. But if you lean forward, it often falls off, and most people wear the helmet to high on their heads. The construction type helmet offers no side protection. Most of our work consists of debris removal in bulidings damaged by fire, floods, earthquackes and extreme weather. The dangers are often from objects that can strike you from the side. Team Rubicon Norway (TR-NOR) have been looking for a better type of helmet.
In August 2020 a massive explosion ripped through the port of Beirut. Killing at least 210 people, injuring more than 7 500. 300 000 people were rendered homeless because of the damage. TR-NOR made the decision to set up an operation to assist the people of Beirut in regaining their normal life. Preparing for the operation we started to search for helmets that would be up to our needs. Through an Norwgian supplyer we found Team Wendy, who could provide the needed helmets.
There is a sad side story here which we like to share. People have asked why the name “Team Wendy”? Cleveland-based entrepreneur Dan T. Moore founded Team Wendy in 1997 as a memorial to his daughter, Wendy, who passed away from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) following a snow skiing accident. The company initially focused on manufacturing and selling ski helmets before transitioning to designing and developing products for military, law enforcement, search and rescue, and adventure communities. From https://www.teamwendy.com
In their inventory we found the Exfil® SAR Backcountry helmet, and as red is one of our base colors, we wanted a red version. Team Wendy liked the story behind Team Rubicon, and the idea of the deployment to Beirut. They decided to sponsor 25 helmets, which equipped our Stirke Team’s with the needed number to operate. We deployed our main force on November 8, and from day one the helmets were part of our equipment.
Our main object ended up being the main fire-station in Karantina. This station is allocated only a few hundred meters form ground zero. They lost ten of their own in the blast, and the station was heavily damaged. The fire brigade lived in the ruined station for almost four months without getting any assistance. We partnered up with Donner Sang Compter and Offrejoi, two volunteer organisations of Beirut. Out task was to remove the damaged walls and debris, and with a line of volunteers haul thousands of new brick into the station so the local entrepeneurs could rebuild the rooms.
TR-NOR were very visible in the area, the Greyshirts and red helmets clearly showing who we were. The red helmets soon became a trademark, and talk of the area.
Evaluation of the operation and equipment is very essential to improve and move forward. The helmets were given high appraise. The fit, protection and comfort og wearing the helmet were the high points. When you wear a helmet 7-8 hours every day, the comfort level is essential. In just over three weeks, TR-NOR did a months worth of work according to our partners, and we were a big part of the fire-station coming back to normal.