Spirit of America and US military efforts strengthen relationships and equip first responders in Bosnia-Herzegovina

I was just in Bosnia and Herzegovina to support a swift water rescue training event put on by the US military. I traveled to Brčko District with the US Army Civil Affairs team to see the training first hand and meet the first responders who were receiving the SoA-funded swift water rescue kits. It was incredible to meet the participants and see how the resources we provided greatly improved the city’s emergency response preparedness and strengthened the military team’s relationship with not only the first responders, but also the city’s civil administration.

Members of Brčko District’s Department for Public Safety, including the local Red Cross, received SoA-funded rescue kits following their completion of the swift water rescue training put on by the Special Operations Forces Liaison Element (SOFLE) and US Army Civil Affairs team.

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is located in a part of the world that has suffered greatly due to ethnic and political divides. The conflict that devastated the country and left it divided, largely along ethnic lines, significantly impacted every part of the residents’ lives. However, during recent natural disasters, including the catastrophic 2014 floods, communities came together to rescue survivors and restore humanity.

During the two-day training event, the US trainers provided a classroom theory portion for first responders where they discussed reading river currents and various rescue techniques. During the second day, the training was held on the Sava river where the participants could demonstrate their skills and practice what was taught during the classroom portion.

Participants prepare their gear ahead of the practical training exercise on the Sava River. The SoA funded equipment, which included rescue ropes, rescue cans (floating buoys), life jackets and other essential items, filled critical gear deficiencies and enhanced the overall value of the training.
SOFLE trainers talk through the objectives of the day’s training with members of the Department for Public Safety, Red Cross, Mountain Rescue Service, and other first responder organizations in Brčko District, BiH.
A rescue swimmer “saves” a US military trainer and demonstrates the proper technique for recovering a drowning victim.

This is the third project Spirit of America has supported in Brčko in the last year. We previously provided outdoor gym equipment for two of the city’s parks and sponsored women’s self-defense classes in Brčko, as well as other cities across BiH. All of these projects have solidified the US military teams’ relationships with their local partners by helping them achieve their objectives, met local needs, and are strengthening the overall ties between the US and BiH.

This invaluable training is planned for other flood prone areas in the future. Your support allowed Spirit of America to provide exactly what was needed to save lives and strengthen the ties between American’s serving abroad and their local partners!

Chris Clary
Project Manager

No endorsement of Spirit of America by the US Department of Defense or its personnel is intended or implied.