MeetTheTeam: Rocco, Search-and-Rescue Coordinator

Rocco, Einsatzleitung auf der Humanity 1
Arez Ghaderi / SOS Humanity

Rocco will be the search-and-rescue coordinator (SarCo) on board the Humanity 1. Before he joined civil search and rescue, he worked in Italian immigration centers and in official camps, that were built from slums.

Before leaving to the central Mediterranean, we asked to Rocco to answer a few questions. #MeetTheTeam

Dear Rocco, thanks for your time! We are very happy for you to be part of our team on board! First things first:

“What were your reasons to join civil search and rescue in the central Mediterranean?”

“What initially brought me to search and rescue were the media reports: I saw how many people were dying in the Mediterranean. I asked myself why – and why this was happening in the Mediterranean. So, I decided to engage in search and rescue to save as many people as possible. My first mission in the Mediterranean started in February 2017.

The second reason for me to stay involved is that I now understand the problem much better. My desire is to bear witness and share my first-hand knowledge of the human rights situation at sea with European citizens.

Now, with my position as SARCO onboard the HUMANITY 1, I have the opportunity and responsibility to build a strong rescue team. I am very excited to share all my knowledge and five years of experience with the new crew on board. I am proud and happy to be part of the SOS Humanity team saving lives at sea.”

“What exactly are youre responsibilities on board?”

“My responsibility on board is being the search and rescue coordinator. I am leading a team of volunteers and marine crew members on board the Humanity 1 in cooperation with the care and communications coordinator, following the safety instructions of the captain.

Together as a SAR team we maintain and repair the whole SAR equipment, for example the RHIBS, the life rafts and other devices.

During the rescue operation I am making a first assessment and taking the decision which is the best procedure to follow, to safe the people in distress. Every rescue is totally different and needs close assessment, due to weather, situation on board the boat in distress and its quality and level of seaworthiness. You need to adapt to the situation, which can change any moment.

Besides the SAR team is helping the care team on board to support the rescued people by being part of the deck watch.”

“Since you mentioned that every rescue operations needs close assessment and as you´ve been active in search and rescue yourself for many years: What do you consider the most important lesson to keep in mind during a rescue operation?”

Don’t waste time. Because one second can make the difference between death and life.

You’ve been involved in civil search and rescue for years, which must feel exhausting at times. What keeps you going and how do you feel about the fact that it’s still civil society rescue ships that fill the gap in search-and-rescue capacities in the central Mediterranean?

“We are talking about people dying at the sea. It is not a choice for or against a job or a political view.
I don’t feel tired of the rescue job itself. It is seeing people suffering and dying in the Mediterranean Sea what makes me tired. I am talking about seeing people with a very high level of stress, being exhausted without any chance of survival without external help.

My personal goal is to save these people in the water.

That is why I am here, to save people. I am not here to fight against politicians. The only thing that makes me tired is the context behind it all.”

“What do you associate with the term “humanity””?

Humanity for me is soul. You are born as a human, that is not something you learn.

Photo credits: Arez Ghaderi / SOS Humanity

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SOS Humanity e.V.

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