From 22-26 September, the Field Coordination Support Section (FCSS) in its capacity of INSARAG Secretariat in FCSS coordinated the INSARAG regional earthquake response exercise together with the Government of Chile as host.
Despite the heavy 8.4 earthquake which occurred just a few days prior to the start of the exercise, the Government of Chile had decided to go ahead with the exercise demonstrating its resilience but also its strong willingness to enhance its own emergency preparedness/response protocols and get ready for a potential need of international assistance.
It was the 5th INSARAG regional exercise to be held in the region and the single major training event on the new INSARAG Guidelines in the Americas region for USAR teams. It was also the first time globally that international/foreign medical teams from beyond the host country were participating thanks to the strong collaboration established with PAHO/WHO in the region. Further, OCHA with the specific support from PSB-Geneva used the exercise to test and promote the use of the OCHA/ Harvard University-led Kobo tool for systematising assessment information.
In total, more than 250 participants, consisting of representatives from the entire National Civil Protection system, 11 national and 25 international USAR and Medical teams from 16 countries, 6 international, regional and/or non-governmental organisations in addition to the entire country team participated. OCHA’s participation included the UNDAC team composed of 8 countries and OCHA, which was supported by all key UNDAC support partners in the region: TSF, MapAction, Americas Support Team (AST), White Helmets, and RedHum. The exercise planning and control group was a truly regional cooperation, consisting of representatives from 7 countries and 5 international organizations including OCHA as coordinator.
Feature photo credit: Christophe Schmachtel
Photos credited: Jose Luis German