Rescue 1122 classified as first team from SA by UN

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Deeba Shahnaz Akhter

It is matter of great honour for the country that Pakistan Rescue Team of Emergency Services Academy Rescue 1122 Lahore Pakistan has become the first team in the South Asia got United Nations International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) External Classification (IEC). INSARAG is the official certifying body of United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA). This is a network of disaster-prone and disaster-responding countries and organizations dedicated to Urban Search & Rescue (USAR) and operational field coordination. It aims to establish standards and classification for international USAR teams as well as methodology for international response coordination in the aftermath of earthquakes and disasters. After this classification, Pakistan Rescue Team is certified from UN-INSARAG to conduct search and rescue operations anywhere in the world. Becoming part of Global Network in the field of disaster response is milestone achieved. Undoubtedly,
To carry out the final process of classification, a Classifier steam of United Nations INSARAG Secretariat including Mr Peter Goxharaj from Germany, Christian Resch & Thomas Nesensohn from Austria, Amjad Al-Huniti from Jordan, Soufian Samghouli from Morocco, Winston Chang wei Shen un insarag Secretariat Geneva, Robert John Norman and Sean Moore from United Kingdom came to Lahore from 28 to 31st October 2019 for final evaluation of Pakistan Rescue Team.

The classifiers team was warmly welcomed by Mr Ehsan Bhutta Special Secretary Home and his team at Home Department, Government of Punjab Civil Secretariat Lahore. The Team Leader Pakistan Rescue Team Dr Farhan Khalid briefed about the Team and process of final exercise. Ehsan Bhutt Special Secretary Home, Capt Shahbaz Deputy Secretary Home and Ms Maleeha Rasheed Additional Secretary Home appreciated the management of Rescue Service, services of rescuers and wished good luck to the Team for UN Classification. After that Team of Classifiers warmly welcomed at Rescue Headquarters/ Academy by Team Commander, Dr Rizwan Naseer and all officers of Headquarters and Academy. They conducted important meetings and reviewed all relevant documents. In the evening of 28th October 2019 the emergency alert was generated and 91 members self -sustained medium level Urban Search and Rescue Team, Pakistan has been activated out of them 69 people were selected to demonstrate all procedures of exercise as per INSARAG Exercise Checklist in a consecutive 36 hours simulation exercise and became the first classified team of South Asia and 55 team of the world.
The Emergency Services Academy (ESA), established by Rescue 1122 in Lahore Pakistan has been selected to station the Pakistan Rescue Team as this centre has become the national centre of excellence and is training emergency staff of all provinces. The academy was also asked to organize the SAARC Rescue Challenge in 2018 for capacity building of emergency services of SAARC countries. Now classified Pakistan Rescue Team can train teams of other provinces and neighbouring countries. Although this certification is a several years’ process in which the UN INSARAG secretariat assigns a Mentor to train and supervise the Team as per best international practices and then after periodical evaluations by UN INSARAG Observers, the INSARAG secretariat give the go ahead for final evaluation.
It is pertinent to mention that the need for this UN certification was greatly felt after looking at the dismal state of rescue services during the October 2005 Earthquake in Pakistan, when we did not have any specialized Urban Search & Rescue (USAR) team. The Founder Director General Punjab Emergency Service Rescue (1122) had started the process of UN-INSARAG Classification with the support of UNOCHA Pakistan and UN-INSARAG secretariat to ensure international standard of Search and Rescue Team of the Service in February 2015. Rescue 1122also established the first Disaster Emergency Response Team in October 2006 and subsequently has been involved in the capacity building of its Rescue Team as per international standards.
The team of Exercise Controller (Ex-Cons) lead by Ayaz Aslam Head of Operations arranged all the scenarios and prepared all role plays for the simulation exercise. This simulation was all about the procedure from Team preparation to travel and deployment in another country and conduct of search and rescue operation in affected country. If we recall our memories of tragic disaster occurred in 8 October 2005, we can easily understand the importance of Pakistan Rescue Team. At that time search and rescue international experts were called to locate & extricate victims from collapsed structure of Margala tower Islamabad as country was not having this capacity. Now after the classification of Pakistan rescue Team Pakistan can offer to other countries to assist and support them in case of any disaster. The difference from 2005 to 2019 is that now the country is not at receiving end rather Pakistan has significantly enhanced its professional capacity in the field of search and rescue. This Classification made Pakistan the part of Global Network and Pakistan Rescue Team can exhibit all disaster response functions as per international guidelines. Alhumdulillah.
Thanks to Mr Edward G Pearn First Team mentor from England for guidance support, supervision of whole process since started and continuous capacity building after periodically evaluation of the Team. The team reached at this level because of your selfless services and team really missed you on the event of great victory. We are praying for your good health. Pakistan Rescue Team will always remember and acknowledge the efforts of all international experts from different countries, who came to Pakistan and provided assistance to enhance professional capacity of the Team. Last but not least thanks to Mr Sean Moore current Mentor and Rob for trusting on the team and giving final go ahead to appear in final. The team proved with performance that your decision was right. Many Congrats to you as well. It would have not been possible without strong commitment of whole team and continuous effort of all Squad Leaders who burn mid night oil to reach at the highest forum. The support of Home department Government of the Punjab, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Pakistan, UN-OCHA PAKISTAN, UN- OCHA INSARAG Secretariat, UNDSS, SDC and all concerned organization is highly acknowledged. Thanks to Governor Punjab CH Muhammad Sarwar for organizing grand event of closing ceremony for the team. The Governor Punjab remained always great source of support to strengthen emergency services in Pakistan and another foundation has been laid down by Pakistan Rescue Team of South Asia and will carry on such efforts for strengthening South Asia with more teams. Great performance was performed by great heroes of Pakistan Rescue Team. Congrats to all Pakistanis on becoming the 1st classified Team of South Asia. Pakistan Zindaabad.
—The written is Liaison Officer, Pakistan Rescue Team [email protected]

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