While the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) earned international accolades for its good work in the earthquakehit Turkey, the force headquarters is moving ahead with its preparations to bag the United Nation’s ‘classification’ that would officially qualify it among the top search, rescue and quick response teams of the world.
A number of countries are interested in training with and studying the National Disaster Response Force’s (NDRF’s) model, according to Atul Karwal, Director General of the NDERF.
Spadework to get the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) classification has been going on for some time. It will also require following the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
This process also involves finalising agreements with various ministries and departments including Civil Aviation, and External Affairs of the many countries.
This will develop an institutional mechanism and memory thus strengthening the whole setup. Also, with time, as the SOPs are set the response time will come down and will lead to saving more lives.
As per the classification levels, there are light, medium and heavy teams. The International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) is a global network of more than 90 countries and organisations under the United Nations umbrella.
INSARAG deals with urban search and rescue (USAR)- related issues, aiming to establish minimum international standards for USAR teams and methodology for international coordination in earthquake response based on the INSARAG guidelines endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly.
Boost to soft power
This also will have a positive impact on the country’s image and boost its soft power. The way India extended prompt response and the way teams of the Indian Army and the NDRF won hearts in Turkey illustrate the point.
Once NDRF gets the classification it will be part of the international response mechanism. The primary intention of the INSARAG External Classification (IEC) system is to provide a better understanding of the individual abilities of USAR teams making themselves available for international assistance.
Having teams classified according to a standard will enable disasteraffected countries to prioritise acceptance of international response support from USAR Teams who can add proven value to their national capacity.
The IEC is an independent, verifiable, voluntary process that has received unanimous acceptance through INSARAG.
Peer review process
The INSARAG community acknowledges the importance of providing rapid, professional USAR support during disasters that result in structural collapse. To achieve this objective, INSARAG has developed a voluntary, independent peer review process for international USAR teams – the INSARAG External Classification (IEC).
INSARAG has become a model for humanitarian assistance, with more than 90 Member States and organizations. As of today, more than 56 international teams have successfully achieved the globally recognised INSARAG IEC status.
Raised in 2006 as the main disaster response force, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has already emerged as the world’s greatest rapid response force for disaster response As India’s economic clout grows and climate change increases the likelihood of natural disasters, the country’s unique experience in disaster relief efforts and standing relief forces give it a unique skill-set, which has also proven a handy diplomatic tool.
Along with the Indian Army, IAF and a medical team, 101 NDRF personnel are also assisting relief efforts following the earthquake in Turkey, thus transforming India into a ‘provider of assistance in international disasters.
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