The IDF Home Front Command's Search And Rescue Brigade has been accepted as a member of the United Nations' International Search and Rescue Advisory Group.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
The IDF Home Front Command’s Search and Rescue Brigade has been accepted as a member of the United Nations’ International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) and will from now on operate under the UN in disaster areas along with other foreign troops.
As part of the INSARAG assessment, the Home Front Command’s Search and Rescue brigade was tested in a variety of complex situations in the fields of preparedness, identification of trapped persons and rescues from collapsed structures.
Throughout the week-long accreditation test the brigade was evaluated according to 230 different criteria, including mobilization of the unit within a specified period of time, rapid analysis of the situation, an engineering survey of buildings, provisions of medical assistance, mobility, the use of advanced logistic technological equipment and simultaneous operation of two parallel destruction sites.
The rescue unit consists of a few hundred reservists including a few dozen female fighters, as well as four female combat soldiers from the IDF’s Oketz canine unit, and four firefighters from the fire brigade. These capabilities of the Oketz and firefighting troops were also examined by the accreditation.
Following the completion of the test the brigade “was accredited and joined a small and prestigious international community of rescue units around the world,” the IDF’s Spokesperson’s Unit said.
The brigade went through tests, training and inspections that lasted four years. Israeli troops were mentored by a team from a German elite rescue unit.
While Israel’s decision to join the alliance was made in 2012, the process was accelerated in 2014 when the military “realized that we had something to learn and to contribute as part of an international search and rescue network,” a senior officer in the National Rescue Unit said.
Based in Switzerland, INSARAG is an international alliance of 80 countries, which centralize rescue units from around the world to coordinate, optimize and utilize rescue operations in disaster-stricken areas and save lives. Among the member states are the US, the UK, Russia, Belarus, Germany, and Turkey.
The Home Front Command’s rescue unit is now accredited to join aid missions under the auspices of the UN to disaster-stricken countries around the world – including those that have no formal relations with Israel or even are considered adversaries.
“There are values that motivate us to increase our sensitivity and responsibility when we get to the country that needs us. The values of independence and responsibility [held by member countries] in INSARAG make troops understand that they should always be in peak readiness,” the senior officer said, adding that “there is also the matter of sensitivity, you do not take the honor unless it is given to you.”
“The United Nations does not pay countries who come to aid, and the states do it in order to save lives...today they help and tomorrow they will be helped,” he concluded.