International Search and Rescue Standards Established Two Decades Ago

It was 20 years ago in December that INSARAG was developed in the wake of chaotic and often unfruitful rescue efforts in the Mexico City earthquake of 1985 and another large quake, in El Salvador, the following year.

The group held its first global meeting in Kobe, Japan, last fall, bringing together 200 participants from 79 countries and eight international organizations, according to this article in IRIN News. They celebrated the organization’s anniversary and commemorated the 15th anniversary of the Great Hanshin earthquake in Kobe.

Because urban search and rescue teams following INSARAG standards in Haiti were well-coordinated and able to easily communicate, they saved “more lives than any other earthquake response in the past 10, 20 years," the article says.

Yet the challenge of certifying qualified international search and rescue teams in an external INSARAG classification process – a slow and costly proposition - remains. Out of the 60 international teams that responded to the Haiti earthquake, only eight were IEC-classified.

It can take years for a team to complete the classification process, and the waiting list for qualification extends to 2014.

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