Video thanks for tsunami recovery work

20:32, Oct 11 2012
USAR Keith Norton
DEMONSTRATION: Tsutomu Waachi, a cameraman from a Japanese television programme, films Urban Search and Rescue team members Dave Berry, front, Dick Tolan, rear left, and Keith Norton at the Woolston Training Centre yesterday.

Not a day goes by when Urban Search and Rescue technician Keith Norton does not think about his experience in Japan after last year's devastating earthquake and tsunami.

He and fellow firefighters and USAR members David Berry and Richard Tolan yesterday received a message of thanks from people in the region they helped.

A Japanese television crew showed them a video from the residents of Miyagi Prefecture, where the New Zealand USAR team spent 10 days after the March 11 disaster.

The three firefighters had been involved in Christchurch quake rescue efforts - Berry and Norton at the collapsed Canterbury Television building - before leaving for Japan, where most of the team's work was body recovery and clearing rubble.

"I couldn't get over the power of what water can do when it is angry. It just takes everything out in its path," Norton said.

"There wouldn't be a day go by that I don't think about that. I don't dwell on it, but it is etched on my memory for life. Christchurch was bad enough, but over there it was devastating."


The subtitled video featured people expressing their appreciation. Norton said it was "very poignant".

"It certainly brought back memories of our time there. It was a lovely gesture and keeps the connection going," he said.

Berry said helping out was "well worth it", and the thank you message came "out of the blue".

Tolan said the video was "quite touching".

During the visit at the Woolston Training Centre, the firefighters gave the Japanese crew a demonstration of some USAR training and rescue techniques.

The Press