|Nhâm Quang Văn, head of rescue team 116, on a search for people who have drowned. Photo courtesy of Nhâm Quang Văn
THÁI BÌNH — Often working through the night and in treacherous conditions, a team in Thái Bình Province has spent the last two years searching for the bodies of people who drowned.
Nhâm Quang Văn, head of rescue team 116, said he can't remember how many bodies have been recovered since he started this work.
He and his team members have travelled across rivers from Thái Bình to Quảng Nam Province to search for victims.
Early on April 18, Văn received a phone call from a family in Nam Định Province asking the team to help find their son who had committed suicide by jumping off a bridge in Trực Ninh District.
Văn's team travelled immediately from Thái Bình Province to the area.
After two days of searching, his team found the boy's body.
This is just one of the hundreds of cases of search and recovery that Văn and his teammates have carried out since 2020.
Two years ago, Văn was a director of a transport company specialising in providing cranes.
The 39-year-old transferred the company and embarked on unpaid search and recovery work.
In October 2020, he called on friends and members of other rescue teams across the country following a large storm in the central region.
They brought 100 canoes and dozens of shipments to the central region to help local people.
After nearly a month of working all day and night in flooded areas, receiving thousands of calls for help, Văn understood the suffering of the victims trapped in the water.
Returning from that trip, Văn decided to set up rescue team 116 in Thái Bình Province and is ready to assist in finding victims of drowning in other provinces if needed.
His family was very worried when he started this work without much experience in the water. But they still supported him because they realised the meaningful work he does for others.
"This job is difficult and requires bravery and experience. In some cases, it takes three or four days to search for victims, even a week," Văn told Dân Trí online newspaper.
"Some benefactors also support me with money to repair machinery and equipment, especially when the canoe breaks down. I have never called for funds from others, because I want to do this work with my own ability and efforts," he added.
The search efforts are harder during winter or the rainy season, Văn said.
Searching for drowning victims requires experience and techniques to avoid risks from the water.
The first thing the rescue team needs to do is determine the location and time when the body sank and then research the flow of water to locate the search area.
"In the first and two days after the person has gone missing, the body is not floating on the water. The rescue work is difficult. But we still try our best to find the victim's body because we understand the feelings of the victim's family at that time," Văn said.
Sometimes, his team has to work through the night and doesn't have time to eat.
That is what Văn and his team accept when doing this difficult job. All their time is devoted to the search and recovery efforts.
"I don't have much time with my family and sometimes I feel exhausted from too much work. I also often talk with my wife but she has never advised me to stop doing this job," said Văn.
He wants to buy more canoes because more people are joining the team.
Văn's team is facing many financial difficulties due to the high costs of searching. The COVID-19 pandemic has also affected his business, leaving him unable to pay for the work.
Recently, Văn has called for support from social networks to get more funding to maintain the team's operation.
Talking about future plans, Văn said he wants to buy more equipment for searching work, hang lifebuoys on bridges and open free swimming classes for children. VNS