LAHORE: Just a few days after celebrating their 15th anniversary, Punjab Emergency Service (PES) Rescue 1122 has set their sights on achieving another milestone.
On October 28, the service will appear for the final test for accreditation from the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG). The 36 hour-long exercise will be judged by ten international experts. If successful, Pakistan will become the first country in the SAARC region and number 54 in the entire world to achieve this feat. This means that Rescue 1122 can be called in to assist in dealing with global disasters.
However, this will not be the final frontier for the service which plans to go for the national accreditation programme; this will allow the service to certify rescue teams operating within the country.
INSARAG is a global network of more than 90 countries and organisations supervised by the United Nations (UN) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The body deals with urban search and rescue related (USAR) issues, aiming to establish international standards for USAR teams and methodology for international coordination during emergency response.
USAR teams are divided into three categories by INSARAG; heavy, medium and low. “For teams categorised as “heavy”, it is mandatory to have sniffer dogs and a minimum of 60 personnel,” explains Rescue 1122 team leader Dr Farhan Khalid. “Such teams should have the capacity to deal with a 10-day operation round-the-clock and at two locations simultaneously,” he says. O
INSARAG will start the accreditation programme for small category teams in 2020, shares deputy team leader Muhammad Ahsan.
Khalid continues that each team has to be self-sufficient in order to avoid burdening the host/emergency struck country. He reveals that Rescue 1122 registered with INSARAG for accreditation as a medium category team in 2015.
Under the mentorship of international expert Sean Moore, the emergency service practiced for the 36 hour-long exercise multiple time. Moore was eventually replaced by Sebastian Neauhaus as the team’s mentor and gave the team the final nod. As a result, INSARAG has fixed October 28 as the date for the final test. A panel of ten international experts will judge the rescue force on international USAR standards for management, logistics, planning and rescue operations during the 36 hour-long exercise.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 17th, 2019.