Abu Dhabi // Civil defence officials are planning to use the skills of the federal search and rescue team to train its personnel to respond to disasters in the emirate. The UAE Urban Search and Rescue Team (UAE USAR) will focus this year on such training, drawing on skills it has obtained during rescue operations conducted in and out of the country since 2005. The team has operated in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Indonesia, and has worked inside the UAE after buildings collapsed.
In December, the team was awarded a special UN designation as an expert search and rescue operation the first team to be so named in the Middle East. Lt Col Mohammed al Nuaimi, the head of UAE USAR, who is also deputy director of the UAE Emergency and Public Safety Department, said the quality of the team's training and expertise would be reflected in the development of nationally qualified rescue teams.
"The team is working now with the Civil Defence department to train civil defence staff on how to respond to disasters," Lt Col al Nuaimi said. "We are co-ordinating with them because there might be a disaster inside the country, such as the collapse of a building." The team is working with officers in the Northern Emirates on how to undertake rescue operations during floods and accidents in the mountains.
It will utilise special facilities in the teaching process, he said. "We've built a training centre for search and rescue in the Technical Rescue and Quick Intervention Department," he said. "The centre is equipped with training facilities for training rescue crews. This centre meets the UN training standards. Exercises include lifting or breaking into concrete [and] concrete clean-cut. There are a variety of techniques that can be learnt.
"The centre was useful to train the team and will be useful for the country. This is one of its kind in the country, and will serve us as well as the civil defence staff." There are now 72 trained search-and-rescue officers; 53 would be dispatched overseas in the event of a major disaster. Lt Col al Nuaimi said there is a plan to expand to 150 officers this year, and potential recruits would be included in the training operations.