Some people just can’t switch off from their day jobs – and Mark Conway is a case in point.
By day Mark works as an emergency planning officer for Central Beds Council, training people in the area with the skills they would need should a major emergency occur in the area.
But in his own time Mark has taken his skills and experience and used them in a more international context – spending time in India where he has volunteered for RAPID UK.
RAPID UK is a search and rescue organisation that provides emergency help to countries in need.
Over a number of visits to India Mark has also made some long-term friendships and contacts.
He said: “Something that I won’t forget is rescuing a 12 year-old boy called Parth after his home had collapsed, crushing his legs.
“He had been trapped for three days in the rubble of his home and it took 20 hours to locate and rescue him with major aftershocks still occurring.
Unfortunately Parth lost his mother and brother in the incident and also lost one of his legs below the knee.”
After being part of the RAPID team that rescued Parth, Mark and fellow volunteers sponsored him so he could have a prosthetic leg fitted and could walk again.
He added: “Most years since then he’s come to the UK to get new legs fitted and many times he’s stayed with my family.
We’ve built up a real bond and he’s now studying for his Masters degree in electronics and computers, working on enabling the brain to work artificial limbs.”
Last year Mark – who works with the Bedfordshire and Luton Emergency Volunteers Executive Committee (BLEVEC)in his day job – returned to India and met Parth’s family again.
He visited again this year to train Indian rescue workers.
He said: “My visits have made me realise just how far India’s search and rescue operations have come on over the years.”
Mark is now urging volunteers in Chronicle Country who would like to be involved in preparing for emergencies in Beds to contact him.
There will be the opportunity to take part in live training exercises. For more information contact mark.conway@ centralbedfordshire.gov.uk or call 0300 300 4145.