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Journey From 8th October 2005 Earthquake to UN-INSRAG Classification



Journey From 8th October 2005 Earthquake to UN-INSRAG Classification

Written By : Deeba Shahnaz Akhter


Pakistan Rescue Team of Emergency Services Academy Rescue 1122 has become the 1st United Nations International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (UN-INSARAG) classified Team in South Asia after completing an extensive evaluation process of several years under supervision of UN INSARAG Mentors for National and International disaster response as per international standards. INSARAG is the official certifying body of United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) for International Search & Rescue Teams. After this achievement, Pakistan has become the part of global Network in field of Urban Search and Rescue. For this classification, a team of United Nations International Classifiers from Austria, England, Germany, Switzerland, Morocco, Jordan and United Nations – INSARAG Secretariat in Geneva came to Lahore from 28th to 31st October 2019 for final evaluation of Team and officially declared that the “Pakistan Rescue Team stands tall amongst the world elite as officially UN Classified Urban Search & Rescue Team”.Uptil now total 56 teams from all over the world have received this recognition.

The need for this UN classification was greatly felt after looking at the dismal state of rescue services during the October 2005 Earthquake in Pakistan, when we did not have any specialized search & rescue teams. The catastrophic earthquake of 8th October, 2005 in northern areas of Pakistan took over 87,000 human lives and uprooted 3.5 million people and after five years in 2010 Pakistan faced another unprecedented catastrophe floods that affected almost 20 million people and inflicted an estimated loss of Rs. 855 billion. Since 2010 numerous flood have been hitting the country. The country was at receiving end in all respect due to dismal state of rescue services. After disaster numerous steps have been taken to build back better in earthquake hit areas and at the same time, newly started Punjab Emergency Service (Rescue 1122) by than established the first Disaster Emergency Response Team in October 2006 and subsequently has been involved in the capacity building of its Rescue Team as per international standards. Likewise, Emergency Services Academy started training of rescuers from all over the country to establish a comprehensive integrated emergency management system in all districts of Punjab and in other Provinces of Pakistan. Today the Rescue Service has rescued over 8.5 million victims of different emergencies, trained over 19000 rescuers for Punjab, KPK, GB, Baluchistan and AJK. The modern Fire Rescue Service responded over 150,000 fire incidents during last 16 years and saved losses worth over 450 billion. Motorbike Ambulance Service set new standard of Response while dealing over 584453 emergencies in 9 divisional headquarters. Patient Transfer Service was provided to over 751496 patients from lower health facility to higher health facility.  Furthermore, the Community Emergency Response Teams have been established in all Union Councils of Punjab and trained over one million first aiders across Punjab under Community Safety Program.

Every year Rescue Service organizes National Rescue Challenge in order to improve coordination, and ensure uniform standards of emergency services in the country, this National Rescue Challenge has been organized. It shall also help in capacity building and skill enhancement of emergency services of all provinces of Pakistan. 9th National Rescue Challenge has been organized at Emergency Services Academy from 8th to 10th October 2020 and these teams will participate in trauma challenge, fire-fit challenge, water rescue challenge, deep well rescue challenge, swimming challenge, and height rescue challenge. The winning teams will be awarded by the Prizes and Shield.

The thing which is important to be remembered that Emergency Service Rescue 1122 provided 24/7 services to all citizens in all kind of emergencies even during COVID-19 pandemic. Rescue Service did not stop, worked hard after October 8, 2005, provided technical and training support to other provinces to replicate model of emergency management system in their respective provinces. Besides that, Pakistan Rescue Team has become the first United Nations INSARAG Classified Team in South Asia in October 2019.This specialized Search & Rescue Team is stationed at the Emergency Services Academy strategically located almost in the centre of the country and can be deployed within the country or internationally in case of any disaster. This Academy has a purpose built rubble field for urban search & rescue training facility with trained staff and specialized equipment as per INSARAG guidelines essential for international deployment in case of a disaster.The history for establishment of Emergency Service Rescue 1122 and its long journey till UN Classification is with full of challenges. DG Rescue Service Dr Rizwan Naseer being founder DG and his committed team burnt midnight oil to raise the standard of the Service and achieve recognition from highest forum in the world.It would have not been possible without the support of national and international concern organizations and Team always acknowledge their support at all level. It is matter of great honor for the Service and for Pakistan to have such expertise which can be offered to other countries to assist and support for Search and Rescue in case of any disaster anywhere in the world. The difference from 2005 to 2020 is that now the country is not at receiving end only. Pakistan has the capacity and UN Classification to be deployed internationally for disaster response Alhumdulillah.

Last year, being Liaison Officer of Pakistan Rescue Team, I had requested to all readers/ Nation, to pray for the success of Team as we were performing skills in the final exercise and international classifiers were observing us. Alhumdulillah Pakistan has succeeded and thanks to all for their support and prays. Now, the Prime Minister of Pakistan can offer support of Pakistan Rescue Team to other countries in case of any disaster and also offer to South Asian Countries for capacity building of their teams through UN Classified Pakistan Rescue Team.  May Allah rests the departed souls of the earthquake in peace and give high ranks in Jannatul Firdoos. History will always be remembered that Rescue Service being humanitarian organization never stops its efforts and continued journey to save lives through selfless and dedicated rescue professionals. Congrats to all Rescue professionals of Pakistan for on achieving this milestone. Alhumdulillah.



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