SCDF team gets UN certification again for complex disaster rescue

Above left: A Singapore Civil Defence Force officer from the Operation Lionheart contingent operating a semi-autonomous load-carrying transporter during the 36-hour exercise that began last Wednesday. Above right: Officers working to equip tents acco
A Singapore Civil Defence Force officer from the Operation Lionheart contingent operating a semi-autonomous load-carrying transporter during the 36-hour exercise that began last Wednesday. PHOTO: SINGAPORE CIVIL DEFENCE FORCE
Above left: A Singapore Civil Defence Force officer from the Operation Lionheart contingent operating a semi-autonomous load-carrying transporter during the 36-hour exercise that began last Wednesday. Above right: Officers working to equip tents acco
Officers working to equip tents according to their functions. The various tents set up during a search and rescue operation include an operations command centre, medical facilities centre, and an equipment-maintenance area. PHOTO: SINGAPORE CIVIL DEFENCE FORCE

After a 36-hour exercise, the Singapore Civil Defence Force's (SCDF) Operation Lionheart contingent was recertified 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 assessment, which began last Wednesday, 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 its response capability and technical capacity based on Insarag guidelines, in their second reclassification 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, allow international teams to be deployed to disaster sites according to their capabilities.

Insarag regional secretariat John Cawcutt said the reclassification 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 hit by them.

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 - can carry heavy loads of up to 500kg or evacuate casualties with minor injuries.

 Officers working to equip tents acco
An SCDF paramedic being lowered using a rope system to stabilise a casualty. PHOTO: SINGAPORE CIVIL DEFENCE FORCE

Deputy contingent commander Alvin Low said: "The prolonged operational exercise was not only complex, but it also 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. It comprises officers from the SCDF's elite Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (Dart), 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 give humanitarian assistance to countries hit by major disasters, including the Sichuan earthquake in 2008, the Nepal earthquake in 2015, and the recent Laos floods.

Charmaine Ng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 09, 2018, with the headline 'SCDF team gets UN certification again for complex disaster rescue'. Print Edition | Subscribe