March 23, 2023

Introduction by Chris Elliott….

Preparing for the potential future disasters that we may have to deal with in Northern Cyprus.

Seeing news reports from Turkey and Syria of the horrendous earthquakes in February 2023 brought back to me the importance of as many people as possible being trained and being given ongoing training in first aid and search and rescue techniques and my mind went back to when I played the part of a car crash victim on a 112 exercise where I was extracted from a vehicle and treated for various injuries by other students.

Time has moved on and we see splendid examples of search and rescue teams at work in Turkey and Syria but it is so important to have as many first responders at the scene who have been trained and are the first to help those in need during the critical Golden Hour of giving care to trauma patients.

By Chris ELLIOTT……..

Having been involved with the 112 (CESV)  volunteers in the past,  I can perhaps be forgiven for recognising the importance of their activities wherever possible and try to bring this to the attention of our readers. With this in mind, I have republished the article below which tells of how the volunteer group was first established in North Cyprus.

Terry Carter is well-known in the TRNC and it is sad that he will be leaving this year (2012) to resume life in the UK after such a long and fulfilling life and latterly being involved in Civil Emergency Services Volunteers (CESV) and the previous 112 Volunteers which all started with a request from the late Rauf Denktaş to Terry to come to North Cyprus with a view of setting up a medical emergency service unit.

I have known Terry for the past 6 years and have worked alongside him in the original 112 Emergency Services Volunteers and it has given me great pleasure to look back at our experiences when working together and also talk to so many other people about their experiences with the volunteers. The important issue is that Terry has worked tirelessly to set up and develop this group and I have included an interview with Terry who explains some knowledge of his life here the following is what Terry had to say:


“It all started in 1983 when my wife, Sheila, and our two daughters, Gillian and Sally, were on holiday in Gumulsluk which is a village about 15 miles from Bodrum, world renowned for its fishing and fish restaurants.  Sally was taken ill with a urine infection and not knowing the protocols in Turkey at the time a very good friend called a doctor out from Bodrum, this was Dr Segin Gokmen.  After he had sorted Sally out, he asked what I was doing as I was looking at some medical books at the time.  I told him I ran a disaster unit in the UK and while the girls were frolicking in the sea I would sit in my deck chair with a nice glass of Pimms and do my lesson plans.  He asked if he could see what I was doing and when I showed him he said you are just the person I want to come here as the services were non-existent.  He offered to take me to the Bodrum State Hospital so I could see for myself that they needed somebody like me to come as a Florence Nightingale in the Crimea War – that is what he said. 

So, a couple of days later I went to the Bodrum State Hospital and found that this consisted of 3 buildings which were about the size of a 4-bedroom bungalow in the UK, painted battleship grey inside and out, and 2 ambulances with virtually nothing in them.  Inside the 2 wards which were male and female, there were 2 very old-fashioned pot-bellied stoves, which probably dated back to the Crimean War! but similar to ones I remember from the Navy many years ago.  Dr Gokmen asked what did I think and I told him it was appalling, he asked if I could help and I replied – yes I can.  There was a meeting with the Hospital Manager, Director and Matron, who also became firm friends, and the hospital was re-decorated and I submitted a list of the items they needed to get.  Luckily, things moved along very quickly and they were very willing to accept a foreigner’s help. Within 3 months I had gone back with a training team of 5 people from the Thames Valley Medical and rescue unit in the UK and we started to sort out training.

Over the next 15 years we trained in the region of 8,500 civilians, soldiers, civil defense workers and nurses from all over Turkey.  This was the start of the Turkish 112.   I have been credited with being the father of that over there.

In 1996 I was given the Freedom of the City of Bodrum and I am honored that there have only been 2 such awards in Turkish history.  I accepted this on behalf of the team I used to take there.”

Terry also reminisced about the numerous trips he made to Turkey over a period of 24 years to the Bodrum Wooden Yacht Regatta and the excitement both he and other volunteers had on these hard-working adventures and this is what he had to say:

“For the past 24 years  every October I have also attended the world-famous Bodrum Wooden Yacht Regatta first with a team of medics from the UK and latterly a team from the CES(V) TRNC volunteers.

We convert an 80ft long Gullet into a hospital ship and two fast rigid outboards as ambulances all fully equipped to handle any emergency.

We are at sea every day for 5 days and have to be prepared to handle anything from amputated fingers to sea sickness. Approximately 130 gullets, yachts etc. take part and it’s a world-class event with some of the best yachtsmen taking part. 

If you go onto their site you will see under the committee I am listed together with our team. Look for Bodrum Cup.

After the 1999 earthquake in Turkey I was approached by telephone by President Rauf Denktaş and he invited me to meet him as he had heard about my work in Turkey.  He asked me to come to North Cyprus to set up the same type of system as I had in Turkey.  This I did and 10 days later I came with my Deputy and we did a complete survey of the emergency services which at that time were at about the same level as the emergency services were in Bodrum in 1983.

I was given a completely free hand by Mr. Denktaş and the Ministers and I gave them a list of requirements including various uniform adjustments to make it less military and more civilian.  At that time the ambulance drivers were just drivers and they took a nurse with them in an emergency who was not trained in trauma or anything, just a plain nurse.   There were 4 ambulances for the whole of the North which were very basically equipped with 2 stretchers, blanket, pillow, small oxygen set and a small first aid kit and that was it.   I submitted a list of equipment which was required and started to arrange funds back in the UK and here and gradually it improved.  I used to bring a team over 3 times a year, mostly the people who had come to Bodrum and we re-trained all the nurses.  The nurses were graduates who had trained 3-4 years at University which was good, and they were trained with paramedic skills as well.  The service was completely re-uniformed together with a very good friend, Dr Kennan Arifoglu .

During subsequent years I came over with the training team until I retired in the UK and in 2005 I bought a house in Çatalköy and was able to concentrate all my efforts by recruiting locally as instructors.   

Following training of nurses, paramedics and fire stations we were asked by the Sivil Savunma (Civil Defence) Authorities to set up an expat organization called CESV and posters were displayed which quickly generated response from 20 people.   This very quickly expanded and we took on more training at the airport and other places such as village clinics and health centres and training was not just in basic first aid but in paramedic skills as well.

The Sivil Savunma expanded and we were very lucky because everyone was so keen, it was a high quality organization which it still is, and there was training continually in fire stations, police, hospital staff and emergency services.

From that small beginning of a telephone call from President Denktaş there are now 36 ambulances with a response time of 17 minutes in rural areas and 5-6 minutes in urban areas.  There are rescue vehicles at the main fire stations and with another 3 being purchased every fire station will have cover and the response time will be reduced to a maximum of 17 minutes.   This goes to show that from little acorns great oak trees grow.

The name 112 started because it was the official name for the TRNC ambulance service.  It changed to CESV when we came under the auspices of Sivil Savunma because it gave a bigger remit not just a narrow channel and we now have a big remit which goes all over the island.

We are also working in conjunction with the British High Commission and they have sent 2 of their instructors to us for helping in the event that there is a really bad emergency. 

We have expanded and there are now 45 good quality members and the present the team consists of some of the founder members and there are some extremely good officers.  I don’t want to embarrass them so I won’t name names. When I leave in June the ship will be on a steady course for expansion.”

I will be watching from afar and reflect on the fact that the chief of the medical services calls me the Father of the Updated Medical Services.”


Terry said he is really going to miss it but he will be back in September, at which time he is going to join the Royal British Legion Kyrenia Branch trip to Gallipoli and this should be a very enjoyable experience. I will also be on this trip and will bring you news and tales of our adventures.

In the meanwhile, plans are being laid for the recruitment and training of new volunteers with an induction training course during September 2012 but if there are any male or female ex-members of the Police Force, Fire Brigade, Ambulance Service, Doctors, Nurses or First Aiders, etc who would like to be part of this community first responder unit, please telephone Steve Collard on 0548 845 5927.

By the time Terry returns in September (2012) we will hopefully see an even bigger group of volunteers working alongside and supporting Sivil Savunma (Civil Defence) and the other Emergency Services.

One of the important issues for me is that those of us that live here at times may feel perhaps unwanted as we may never become citizens but when you become involved as a volunteer you very quickly realize that you are needed by the country, but perhaps more importantly by coming into contact with many Turkish Cypriots, you will be welcomed and can become part of that big community and family, that is North Cyprus.

I would like to give my thanks to Terry Carter for the wonderful information and photos he has made available for this article and also to Steve, Bob, and all of the other volunteers who have given so much help over the past weeks whilst I have been researching for both this and other articles about their activities.”

So this article was written in 2012 and Terry has made a new life in the UK and the CESV Volunteers have continued their work alongside Sivil Savunma with many training sessions given to the TRNC Emergency Services and others and this October we will see the return of Terry Carter as a Director of AoFA (Association Of First Aiders) when he will run a re-evaluation and accreditation course for the CESV instructors to bring their skill levels up to the very latest standards as approved by AoFA so in turn they can train others up to this prestigious level of first aid skills.

Editors Note: Since those days long ago, sadly Terry Carter passed away in the UK but if he was alive today, he would have been delighted and so proud to see the work of the TRNC Sivil Savuma and Turkish Search and Rescue teams in Turkey together with those from other countries and its clear that everyone with training will make a difference when needed. 

For those who are interested and would like to know more about 112/CESV, we will bring you more news soon.

Note: CyprusScene would like to offer their condolences to the many people and families who have lost loved ones and friends as a result of the dreadful 2023 earthquake that affected Turkiye and Syria.

If you like CyprusScene news and reviews your support will be much appreciated by buying a coffee

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