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Czech USAR team succesfully passed an INSARAG External Classification Exercise from 10 -14 October 2010.

Aim of the INSARAG External Classification (IEC) is to strengthen of effectiveness and coordination of assistance during international search and rescue operations especially in areas stricken by earthquake or other huge disaster followed by collapse of structures (Resolution of the UN General Assembly No 57/150 from 16 December 2002) and to provide assistance to local rescue units and to reduce deployment of unprepared and insufficiently technically equipped foreign rescue team on-site of huge emergency by the certification according to the INSARAG Guidelines under UN – Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.  


Purpose of IEC was to declare that Czech USAR team is with its organizational, operational, tactical, technical and professional level ready for effective operation on site of emergency as heavy team, HEAVY USAR, according to the INSARAG Guidelines. Classification process of Czech USAR team was in process from 2008 until now and its latest step was classification exercise “CZERT IEC 2010”.

Theme of exercise


On 12 October 2010 at 3.00 a.m. local time (1.00 UTC) European country Chacharia was stricken by devastating tornado ESTER. Heavy damages were reported above all in Chacharian capital Zábřeh, its surroundings and two industrial areas.


The buildings and critical infrastructure (water supply, gas supply, etc.) were damaged in all affected areas; there were also reports about CBRN leakage with subsequent environmental pollution and big explosions in the Chemical Plant. The tornado ESTER was followed by huge rainfalls. Large number of buildings in urban as well as in industrial areas were totally destructed according to available sources. Many standing buildings were supposed to have significantly disturbed stability. Lots of people trapped under the collapsed building rubble. Many objects of the critical infrastructure were damaged, including potable water pipelines. Live victims were trying to help themselves and search and rescue other missing and buried people.


The rescue operations were basically provided by the Fire Rescue Brigade of CHACHARIA (FRB CHR), local Volunteer Fire Departments. All essential services were mobilized and all accessible Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Teams of the Fire Rescue Service had been deployed, mainly in the most populated areas - out of City of Zábřeh. However, Chacharia didn´t have sufficient capacity to handle this situation, so it decided to ask for international assistance through international organizations (UN-OCHA and EU Monitoring and Information Centre). On the basis of this request the Ministry of Interior – General Directorate of the Fire and Rescue Service of the Czech Republic decided to activate the Heavy USAR Team. International rescue teams conducted search and rescue operations to save victims of disaster on-site in cooperation with rescue units of the stricken country.


The structure of 68-member Heavy USAR Team is consistent with the INSARAG Guidelines to ensure adequate resources to operate independently at two separate work sites for a minimum of ten days.


IEC exercise was designed as tactical exercise of fire units (USAR is in operational level fire unit established by Ministry of Interior – General Directorate of the Fire and Rescue Service of the Czech Republic, according to the Order No. 26/2010 of Director General of the FRS CR from 22 April 2010 to classification of Czech USAR team according to the international standards adopted within International Search and Rescue Advisory Group INSARAG).


Scope of the exercise was planned on strategic, operational and tactical level of coordination and management. Exercise was initiated by Operations and Information Centre of MoI GD FRS CR which received request for assistance in stricken country through EU Monitoring and Information Centre. On the basis of this information Managing officer of MoI GD FRS CR activated Staff of GD FRS CR for providing of international humanitarian assistance. This Staff in cooperation with other state bodies (e.g. Ministry of Foreign Affairs) decided about offer of humanitarian assistance to stricken country by sending rescue unit – USAR team which is specialized for search and rescue operation for victims in collapsed buildings in urban areas.


USAR team operated in area of Dolní Vítkovice with help of role-players imitating (representing) injured or dead victims of disaster. USAR team searched and rescued victims of disaster from rubbles of collapsed buildings.


Author: Alena Horáková

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