Rescue Telecom: A small recap over coffee with John Cramer


The week-end of 6, 7, 8 September was special for the Rescue Telecom as they spent 3 days in the Belgian forest. Effective members and support functions of the Belgian Rescue-Telecom Team and their family were invited. The NE Leadership Team and some external partners could attend as well.

John, what were the objectives of this 3 day Rescue-Telecom week-end?

We had 3 objectives in mind:

  1. Team Building: Creating a real team spirit is crucial for the success of Rescue-Telecom. This event wanted to focus on the team building on local a (Belgian) level. At the same time, it was an opportunity to further develop the collaboration and recognition with some external partners and to start the first recognition tract with others. The team building on a global level will be created by other initiatives.
  2. Recognition: We wanted to give our team members recognition for the work they have done so far. By including family members, there was a chance to really see what mom or dad is involved with. It is a great way to share on a personal level what we care about as a company and as an individual: WHO is this Rescue-Telecom? What do they do? Why?
  3. Testing, training and gap analyses: Rescue-Telecom BE tested the equipment and a first set of procedures during several workshops. The workshops helped us identify improvement possibilities and we are now ready to define a remediation plan.



Three days is quite a long time, what did you do?

Friday was dedicated to the effective members only ( Carlos, Hans, Alain, Didier, David, Daniel and myself). We tested the deployment plan and the equipment. This was done by creating a scenario to make the activity as real-life as possible: we played out the hypothesis that Leuven was at risk to be flooded.

Saturday we did a cross training amongst effective members and the support functions (Serge, Maureen and Niels joined the troops). There were also two members from B Fast (Belgium First Aid and Support Team). These professionals trained us on how to use the radio equipment. As you can imagine: efficient communication with external aid services in a disaster relief mission is incredibly important.

Sunday was our family day to give recognition to all volunteers. We also invited the AXA Tech NE LT as we thought it would be interesting for them to see how we have put the funding’s money to good use. We felt that their families too showed a real interest in our activities. There was a short presentation followed by an informal drink. To top it off we had organized a fun ‘treasure hunt’ in the woods during which the participants could use part of our equipment. Needless to say, this was the highlight for all kids present!


What were your personal highlights, John?

My personal highlight was undoubtedly the simple fact of being together during 3 days with my colleagues and getting to know their family. It will also influence the way we connect in the future. For instance, while Daniel Box will be on a mission in Madagascar, I might need to communicate with his wife. Having met her, it will definitely give a different feeling to the conversations we might have.

Other than the technical improvement possibilities, what did you learn from this experience?

The first day was quite tiring, we trained till 10PM. When we are tired and under pressure, we are more likely to react in ways that we don’t usually do. So, discovering these reactions was interesting. In a ‘real’ disaster scenario, these will most likely be enlarged. I also discovered that we all had our own objectives in this training: some people were more focused on testing equipment, some on setting up an end-2-end service, others on human interactions etc. In any case, the most important lesson was: practice is crucial and we need to keep doing it.

Thank you for your time, John! I am looking forward to your next event!


If anyone has further questions on RescueTelecom, please do not hesitate to contact any of the members or visit