“The Philippine Government will host the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) earthquake regional exercise this coming June in Clark, Pampanga,” said Assistant Secretary Kristoffer James Purisima, Deputy Administrator of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD).

“This exercise, which will involve more than 400 participants – both from the international partners and our local community partners – is a demonstration of the Philippines’ serious effort in investing more in the capability of our Search and Rescue (SAR) teams. Investing to make the Philippines’ SAR teams more competent in times of disaster response does not only benefit our country in having competent and skilled rescue teams in times of emergencies, but  this also benefits the global community as this is our government’s contribution to provide ready, qualified SAR teams to other countries when emergencies strike,” he explained.

Assistant Secretary Purisima was the head of the Philippine Delegation that attended the INSARAG Meeting at the Humanitarian Networks and Partnership Week (HNPW) in Geneva, Switzerland.

INSARAG or the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG), established in 1991, is a network of disaster-prone and disaster-responding countries and organizations dedicated to urban search and rescue (USAR) and operational field coordination.

Given the need for sophisticated Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) capabilities to deploy in terms of rescuing trapped victims in times of earthquakes, INSARAG saw the need to classify international USAR teams according to their operational capabilities in order to ensure that only qualified and appropriate international USAR resources are deployed during an emergency. This led to the development of a voluntary, independent, peer review process called the INSARAG External Classification (IEC). Being established in 2005, this system is designed to ensure that assisting countries send a team with the required capabilities. It also plays a major role in ensuring that the appropriate resources are assigned to the appropriate sites as soon as possible. INSARAG is under the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA).