Armenia Became A Member of International Rescue Family


On September 4, the RA TAES Ministry received highly qualified experts from 10 countries representing the Emergency System. They arrived in Armenia as classifiers, observers and mentors to assess the qualification process of Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Team of MTAES for joining the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group of the United Nations (INSARAG).

Two Urban Search and Rescue Teams of the RS of the RA MTAES successfully underwent a 36-hour rather difficult external classification exam-exercise. A positive conclusion of peer experts was needed to undergo the classification process of INSARAG. The purpose of the meeting was to summarize the results of the last qualification phase of the examination held from 1 to 4 September.

Search and rescue team’s management and response capabilities, the rescuers’ knowledge, as well as medical and logistics provision were tested throughout the process.

According to the experts, the Armenian USAR Team has undergone an INSARAG External Classification Exercise, in line with the criteria established in the INSARAG Guidelines. On 4 September, the day of the MTAES employee and rescuer, the Armenian team became the member of the international search and rescue family.

The Secretary of INSARAG, Director of the DM department of the INSARAG Secretariat Field Coordination Support Section (FCSS) of the Emergency Services Branch of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Jesper Holmer Lund, solemnly handed over the qualification certificate of the Armenian team to the Director of RS of MTAES, r/s Lieutenant-General Sergey Azaryan.

The Polish team, that supported the Armenian rescuers, presented letters of appreciation and awards to the heads of the Armenian team. Medals and certificates of MTAES were handed over to Polish specialists and team leaders, who have great contribution in the success of the Armenian team.

- Today is a historic day. 25 years after the earthquake in Spitak, Armenia became a member of INSARAG-, the motivation of the formation of the large network was just the Spitak earthquake. Thanks for long-lasting and fruitful work. We shall also express our gratitude to the observers, for their support to the Armenian USAR Team and observation of the qualification process. I congratulate the Armenian rescuers with this great achievement,- noted Jesper Holmer Lund.

The leader of the qualification group, Dean Nankivel representing the United Kingdom, expressed his admiration regarding to the Armenian team preparedness, emphasizing the Armenian rescuers professional preparedness and solid teamwork.

-It was great pleasure for me to be the leader of the qualification group of such a team. INSARAG has already got a certified team in this region, which can serve as an example for many countries. This is an incredible success, the whole world will know about it. What happens in Armenia, is not only internal, but also a world-wide achievement. I'm really impressed.

Swiss Rescue Service representative Heinz Eberhart, who was testing the Armenian USAR’s logistical capabilities, highlighted the team’s highly preparedness and specificity.

- It is very gratifying, that 25 years after the Spitak earthquake Armenian rescuers are showing similar results. The team will be accepted by the world, as a highly qualified member. Armenian rescuers show professional results. Congratulations!
The representative of the search and rescue team of the Siberian region of Russia Artem Karnaukhov, who was an observer, considered this day really symbolic for the Armenian rescuers.

- Being formed after the Spitak earthquake, Armenia today joins INSARAG. Herewith, the cycle ends, as it has started from Armenia, and ends with the Armenian team’s qualification. But it can be confidently stated, that the cycle is not closed, and a new cycle begins, -noted A. Karnaukhov.

During the meeting, the Russian side read the RF Emergency Situations Minister V. Puchkov’s congratulatory message to Armenian rescuers, where it was particularly stated:

- We are very glad to rely on the Armenian rescuers’ support. We are confident, that the Russian-Armenian Center for Humanitarian Assistance will contribute to further expansion of our cooperation. I wish, the Armenian rescuers to continue in similar pace to develop their abilities and wish new achievements.

The Armenian rescuers once again confirmed the high level of their human and professional qualities.

On behalf of Minister A. Yeritsyan and the entire Ministry, Haykaram Mkhitaryan, MTAES Deputy Minister, expressed his gratitude to the guests for their support to the Armenian USAR Team and observation of the qualification process. H. Mkhitaryan noted, that the success of the team was the result of several years and hard work, highlighting the valuable contribution of partners, particularly from Switzerland and Poland.

INSARAG is a global network of more than 80 countries and organizations under the United Nations umbrella. It was established in 1991, after the two devastating earthquakes: the Mexican earthquake of 1985 and Spitak earthquake of 1988, aiming to strengthen the effectiveness and coordination of international search and rescue assistance.

In 2011 Armenia applied for INSARAG membership, to pass external classification. After having received a certificate, the Armenian team will have the right of a permanent presence in international rescue operations. To join such a classification in the UN is a great honor for Armenia, as many rescue teams of INSARAG member countries do not have adequate training standards yet.

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