ABU DHABI // A conference on urban search and rescue that opened yesterday will help the UAE become a leader when disaster strikes, it was claimed. "The experience we will get from this conference will help us in developing and becoming decision makers instead of spectators, which is the general speculation about Arab countries," said Major Mohammed al Ansari, a focal point operations officer in the UAE team and a member of the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Co-ordination team.
Experts from 34 countries are exchanging knowledge at the three-day International Search and Rescue Advisory Group meeting. The UAE's team will be upgraded to "heavy" class in 2013, when it will be able to operate in two different locations for 10 days and will have a minimum 120 officers. Major al Ansari said Dh25 million (US$6.8m) was spent on equipment and training for the team to receive the "medium" classification in December in only eight months. Some countries took as long as two years to reach that level, he said. The team has 73 members and can operate in one place for seven consecutive days.
"Developing the team will never stop. We have learned many lessons since our first mission in Pakistan in 2005," Major al Ansari said. The team has also helped in rescue efforts in Indonesia and Afghanistan. firstname.lastname@example.org