Rescue teams from Switzerland, France and Germany participated in a practice scenario in which a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck the Geneva area on 21 November 2021. In the military training village near Epeisses, the Swiss rescue team was tasked with locating and rescuing a large number of victims and providing them with emergency medical care. Just over 80 specialists from Swiss Humanitarian Aid, the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA), the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS) and the rescue dog organisation REDOG attended the practice deployment near Geneva. Swiss Rescue is composed of organisations from the public and private sector, civil society, and the military. It is deployed under the management of Swiss Humanitarian Aid, which is part of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA).
The Swiss search and rescue team worked around the clock for 48 hours and was reclassified under UN criteria following an assessment by twelve international specialists from the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG). All operational phases of a deployment are assessed, from raising the alert through to demobilisation. The classification also requires active coordination with the local authorities and other rescue teams. The diploma received by Swiss Rescue renews its classification as a Heavy Search and Rescue Team of the highest standard for another five years. This means the Swiss team has again proved it can operate for up to ten days in an emergency situation, and is able to conduct search and rescue operations and provide emergency medical care at two deployment sites simultaneously.
The other rescue teams participating in the three-day exercise – the Pompiers de l'urgence Internationale from France and @fire Germany – were also assessed in various categories and reclassified.
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