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Monday, March 02, 2020, 12:28
Volunteer rescue workers brave risks to fight against contagion
By CAO DESHENG
Monday, March 02, 2020, 12:28 By CAO DESHENG

Volunteers of Blue Sky Rescue, a nonprofit civil rescue organization, disinfect a residential building in Wuhan, Hubei province, the epicenter of the virus outbreak, on Feb 22. [Photo by WANG JING/CHINA DAILY]

Volunteers from Blue Sky Rescue, China's biggest nonprofit civil rescue organization, have joined the fight against the novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak as the nation mobilizes all available resources to combat the contagion.

After each batch of donated supplies arrives in Wuhan, a lot of complicated work has to be done, such as customs clearance and receiving and delivering goods. It was time-consuming for the front-line medical staff members to do such work... Blue Sky Rescue became a bridge between donors and hospitals, making every effort to unclog the 'last mile' in rescue

Zhang Yong, Blue Sky Rescue commander 

Since the start of the epidemic, more than 400 volunteers from seven provinces, including Henan, Shandong, Zhejiang and Jiangsu, have been in Wuhan, Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, to help the local government and residents overcome the challenges, Blue Sky Rescue commander Zhang Yong said.

Zhang, 47, said Blue Sky Rescue had played an indispensable role in major disaster rescue operations, such as the Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan province in 2008, and the ongoing epidemic was no exception.

The volunteers are responsible for the operation and maintenance of a warehouse that was jointly opened by the China Charity Federation and Hubei Charity Federation and is used as a temporary transfer site for donations from across the country and abroad, Zhang said.

They also help deliver medical supplies and offer disinfection services in public venues, office buildings and residential communities, he added.

"After each batch of donated supplies arrives in Wuhan, a lot of complicated work has to be done, such as customs clearance and receiving and delivering goods. It was time-consuming for the front-line medical staff members to do such work," Zhang said. "Blue Sky Rescue became a bridge between donors and hospitals, making every effort to unclog the 'last mile' in rescue."

Founded in 2007, Blue Sky Rescue has become an important part of China's emergency rescue system with around 200,000 volunteers throughout the country, according to Zhang.

The organization has taken part in more than 10,000 search and rescue missions, helping save lives after earthquakes, landslides and hurricanes. It has also become an active participant and leader in international nonprofit rescue missions.

Kan Yuanjian, a Blue Sky Rescue volunteer from Wuhan, said he helped the rescue team organize disinfection services.

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"When there is a need, we will enter severely infected communities in Wuhan for disinfection," Kan said, adding the volunteers also help train community workers in disinfection.

Kan, who is in his 50s, said that besides taking part in rescue efforts in earthquakes or landslides, volunteers have to brave the risk of infection. However, they are happy to contribute in the fight against the epidemic, he added.

"Many volunteers cherish the belief that they should do something good for society," Kan said.

To involve more people in the "people's war" on the epidemic, authorities in Wuhan launched a campaign on Feb 23 to recruit volunteers to strengthen support for community workers in the battle against the virus.

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Chen Qiangsheng, an official from the publicity department of the Communist Party of China's Wuhan city committee, said more than 10,000 residents had answered the call to offer volunteer services as of Feb 23. 

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