SINGAPORE - They came from across the globe to compete.
Yesterday, 20 rescue organisations from 18 countries including Australia and Britain, sent some of their best rescuers to the Singapore-Global Firefighters and Paramedics Challenge at the Singapore Expo.
The most impressive event - going from the cheers from the crowd of over 9,000 - was the mixed team challenge: Participants broke out from their national squads and formed groupings of eight rescuers.
This meant that a single team, like the Blue Team, had officers from Hong Kong, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Britain, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Australia.
The Blue team went head to head against three other groups in a series of gruelling true-to-life scenarios that tested their rescue abilities.
In one scenario, they were expected to rescue a victim from a high-rise building.
Mr Paul Courtney, 47, who has been a firefighter in Britain for 17 years, could be heard barking orders above the cheers of the crowd.
As soon as the buzzer sounded, the men burst into action, each in their respective roles, getting to grips with the equipment.
Despite their disparate backgrounds, the firemen all lived and breathed teamwork.
Like clockwork, everything went as planned. Mr Faisalur Rahman from Bangladesh handled the cutter while the other rescuers took turns to work the hydraulic pump.
While the guys on the ground pumped away, 34-year-old Agus Susanto of Indonesia - who has been a firefighter for just a month - was leading the rescuers on the scaffolding, 8m up from the ground.
They had to secure a man-size dummy onto a stretcher and take it to ground level before negotiating a maze.
Awaiting their arrival were the ground crew who had just finished cutting a hole through a slab of concrete.
In the last part of the race, they had to hoist the dummy through the hole using a tripod and get the "casualty" to the finish line onto the stretcher.
With a time of 9 minutes and 34 seconds, the Blue Team beat the three other teams by over a minute.
When asked what was good about the event, Mr Courtney said he relished the opportunity to connect with fellow rescuers from overseas.
"Otherwise, the only time we could do this together, is if we are activated to a major disaster," he said.
His teammate from the Philippines, Mr JL Aaron Caro, believed he knew the reason for the Blue team's success.
He said: "We are all firefighters at heart. We don't need to understand each other's language, all we need is to have the same heart to save lives."
This article was first published on Sep 14, 2014.
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