SCDF search-and-rescue contingent retains UN certification after 36-hour exercise

International classifiers from the United Nations' International Search and Rescue Advisory Group observing the Singapore Civil Defence Force's Operation Lionheart Contingent at work during a 36-hour disaster search-and-rescue simulation exercise tha
International classifiers from the United Nations' International Search and Rescue Advisory Group observing the Singapore Civil Defence Force's Operation Lionheart Contingent at work during a 36-hour disaster search-and-rescue simulation exercise that started on Sept 5, 2018. PHOTO: SCDF
An SCDF officer from the Operation Lionheart Contingent operating a semi-autonomous load-carrying transporter during the search-and-rescue exercise. The transporter can carry heavy loads of up to 500kg or evacuate lightly-injured casualties.
An SCDF officer from the Operation Lionheart Contingent operating a semi-autonomous load-carrying transporter during the search-and-rescue exercise. The transporter can carry heavy loads of up to 500kg or evacuate lightly-injured casualties. PHOTO: SCDF
The SCDF Operation Lionheart Contingent is a dedicated team of search-and-rescue officers who are ready to be mobilised and deployed on short notice to countries affected by major disasters.
The SCDF Operation Lionheart Contingent is a dedicated team of search-and-rescue officers who are ready to be mobilised and deployed on short notice to countries affected by major disasters.PHOTO: SCDF

SINGAPORE – After a 36-hour exercise, the Singapore Civil Defence Force’s (SCDF) Operation Lionheart Contingent was re-certified as capable of conducting complex search-and-rescue operations in the aftermath of a disaster in an urban setting, such as the collapse of buildings.

The classification exercise, which began on Wednesday (Sept 5), was conducted by the United Nations’ International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (Insarag) at the Home Team Tactical Centre and Civil Defence Academy.

The team was assessed on their response capability and technical capacity based on Insarag guidelines, in their second re-classification exercise.

In 2008, the SCDF contingent was the first in the Asia-Pacific to attain the highest classification under Insarag – the “Heavy” Urban Search and Rescue team – which it received again on Friday. 

The classifications, which include “Light” and “Medium” Urban Search and Rescue teams, allows international urban search-and-rescue teams to be deployed to disaster locations according to their capabilities.

Insarag regional secretariat John Cawcutt said the re-classification makes Singapore a “centrepoint in being able to respond and make a significant difference in helping communities affected by disasters” in a region that is frequently impacted by disasters. 

Drones and a semi-autonomous load-carrying transporter were also incorporated into the contingent’s front-line operations during the exercise for the first time.

The semi-autonomous transporter, which is controlled wirelessly via a smartphone or remote, is able to carry heavy loads of up to 500kg or evacuate casualties with minor injuries. 

Deputy contingent commander Alvin Low said: “The prolonged operational exercise was not only complex, but it stretched the SCDF contingent physically and mentally.”

Colonel (NS) Low added that it also served as a “good benchmark for operationally ready national servicemen to work alongside our regular officers”. 

The contingent is a dedicated team of search-and-rescue officers who are on standby throughout the year to assist countries affected by major disasters.

It comprises officers from the SCDF’s elite Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team, fire and rescue specialists and paramedics, a Hazardous Materials assessment team, officers specialising in logistics and service support, and NSmen.

Since its formation in 1990, the contingent has been deployed throughout the Asia-Pacific to render humanitarian assistance to countries hit by major disasters, including the Sichuan earthquake in 2008, Nepal earthquake in 2015, and the Laos floods last month.