Formation of Iran INSARAG Team, a step toward increasing preparedness against disasters

December 31,2019 News rating
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TDMMO- Portal Office, Dec 31, 2019

Following convening a three- day workshop which has been held in coordination with Austrian INSARAG representatives, UNOCHA officials and NDMO, RCS, TFB and TDMMO authorities and experts for planning and exchange of viewpoints for formation of Iranian INSARAG team, there was a brief discussion with Mr. Norbert. Stefan. Hoffer, INSARAG representative and one of the founder of this system.

TDMMO- Portal Office
Dec 31, 2019

Following convening a three- day workshop which has been held in coordination with Austrian INSARAG representatives, UNOCHA officials and NDMO, RCS, TFB and TDMMO authorities and experts for planning and exchange of viewpoints for formation of Iranian INSARAG team, there was a brief discussion with Mr. Norbert. Stefan. Hoffer, INSARAG representative and one of the founder of this system.

About the whole project Mr. Norbert Stefan Hoffer, INSARAG founder stated that the formation of Iran USAR team project has been running in 3 phases. In 2017, we (INSRAG) together with cooperation of Austrian Ambassador in Tehran, Dr. Stefan Scholz, developed the idea for the humanitarian development project for Iran in the area of disaster preparedness. In Dec 2017, we contacted with Iranian authorities e.g. TDMMO, RCS and universities and we had informative meetings but we had no idea whether this would be accepted by Iranian authorities. Following that, Dr. Scholz had many meetings and talked about this idea and informed different groups. In Dec 2018, there was a workshop in Tehran with presence of TDMMO, Red Crescent Society (RCS), Tehran Fire Brigades (TFB) officials and representatives of ministries and also out of administration with the aim to inform experts and authorities about the meaning of INSARAG.

He added that INSARAG has been developed based on experiences of Armenian Earthquake which has been occurred in 1998. In order to help affected people in this earthquake, a lot of rescue teams from all over the world came there together and very soon they realized that there was no local coordination and we found urgent need for communication and coordination and international networking. We founded an umbrella for that which is now UNOCHA but at that time was office for disaster assessment in Geneva and together with the staff, we developed the idea of world wide networks of teams, team leaders and experts who will be able to cooperate in the fields when disaster strikes. It is not only the cooperation in the field but use of modern communication technology which now is run by UNOCHA in Geneva. In relief, the stricken countries should send all the information about type of disasters, the rated number of victims and the urgent needs such as medical needs, food, and shelter and so on. This will be publish on the INSARAG web site and people all around the world who are working on this subject have chance to get these information and help us to save victims in very fast way.

Based on our previous meetings with Iranian officials, Mr. Huffer said that we learned that IRCS, fire Brigades and medical services have a good level of practical works comparable with other countries in the world. Therefore, we informed them about standardization system of INSARAG. He added that one of our goals is to develop technical and operational standards. With these standards when teams come together in the field they will be able to cooperate and communicate with each other. This has been accepted very positively and following that now the conference is the next step. Following this development, Iran made the decision to form two heavy urban search and rescue teams for missions abroad and inside country based on UN and INSARAG standards. We also developed a partnership between Austrian USAR unit and RCS and TFB. We are the founding partners for establishing IRCS and TFB teams. The minimum strength of heavy teams require 64 people but this can be enlarged if we add special capabilities. In March next year, we discuss operational strengths, personnel and equipment required for these two team with Iranian officials in detail and concerning the partnership it should be mentioned that this is a 3- year project that will start in 2020 with exchange of information and the first participation of Iranian experts in exercises in Austria for individual who have key functions in future teams and the homework will be done in Tehran. Regarding equipment, we have to have a clear overview about equipment which type of equipment is available and we give our advice on them. About the personnel, it should be said that INSARAG has very well- trained personnel but there is one precondition that all participants should have English language knowledge basic for everybody, level A and level B for key functions such as liaison officers, team commanders, logistic and communication experts and so on. The next step is forming the team and there will be a chance to visit preparation of Austrian teams and the reclassification of our teams which will demonstrate the previous problems, critical points that identified and it is a system that if a team has this qualification by UN specialist then this team has the right level to assist in disasters in the best way worldwide.

One of our previous problems in disasters was crisis of disaster tourists, I mean people who are representatives of some NGOs which I love them very much. They have great hearts but no technical equipment and no special skills. In disasters we have to find international reliable standardization which is the system of classification.

Regarding IRCS and TFB teams, it should be mentioned that based on INSARAG goal, the teams will be operational in 2022 and in 2023 there will classification of these teams.

About the plan for increasing number of the teams, based on our discussion with Iranian official, these two teams should play a role model for whole Iran. When the teams are operational in 2022, then depends upon intention of the government, they will be used as an example for provinces and cities.

Regarding launch of training for Iranian teams, Mr. Hoffer said that there is a distinction between National and International trainings. Concerning national training as he mentioned there are high level of expertise in TFB and RCS and there is no real difference between training in Austria and Iran. But regarding standardization, we provide your experts our standards and our experiences not only in establishing the teams but also in providing you with our training curriculum which are based upon a 30 – year experience then you have the chance to develop your own system.

He continued that in other word, Austria has a supportive role for establishing your teams. We will send you our training experts who will tell your colleagues here we are doing things in that way and why. So they can learn from each other. Acutely, due to the fact that Iran is a disaster prone country unfortunately, have a lot of experiences, therefore, we can also learn your experience. Mr. Hoffer added that then we will invite your teams and your team leaders and staff officers of unit staffs and commanders to Austria and in this way they can observe our process and procedures.

In continuation of Austria support for formation of Iran INSARAG team, he said that as mentor country for your teams, Austria will play a whole role of mentor for formation of Iranian teams. If you have ever been on mission somewhere in the world in disasters, and see what’s going on there, you will learn that there is an obligation for human being to engage themselves in this field.

He stated that we had chance to establish our INSARAG teams and unit and to develop this international system with other colleagues worldwide and now I have honor that Iran declares the intention to participate in this system and we can share our experiences with you.

He added that since ten years he has been retired from Austria armed forces and from that time on he is working as trainer in this field and he mentioned by this we can tell others please not to make our mistakes and try to make your efforts in the way that they become more successful.

Regarding steps of the project for obtaining the goals, he continued that for next year in 2020 the most important thing is exchange of information from both side, defining the goals in detail, structure of unit and personal qualification in detail and so on. Up to now, RCS and TFB nominated those personal that are going to participate in the teams therefore, based on Human resource management there should be some advices that who should do what in the team, which type of qualification is needed for which special task because this is important that suitable specialists with different experience act right in the field. Next year in 2020, Iranian team will be build up theoretically and practically there will be chance to gain information in Austria and at the end of 2020, you should have clear vision and basics for formation of team. In 2021, that’s the year of formation of team, once again we will send experts here, guiding and watching the process and invite your experts to Austria and then in 2022, the team should exist and this should be the first moment to be presented to the public and to run field exercises and the teams should have already operational field capability in this year. Then, comes to official classification in 2023 and the mentor will give guidance until the classification will be completed.

About obstacles countries have for formation of INSARAG teams, he said that the political will, the resources especially human resources are very important. He added that about Iran you have the resources so our main goal is how to make them familiar with this system and at the end the message to the world is they have the units and they are operational so classify them.