The International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) is a network of disaster-prone and disaster-responding countries and organizations dedicated to urban search and rescue (USAR) and operational field coordination.
INSARAG was established in 1991 following initiatives of international SAR teams that responded to the 1988 Armenia earthquake. The United Nations was chosen as the INSARAG secretariat to facilitate international participation and coordination. The Field Coordination Support Section (FCSS), located within OCHA Geneva's Emergency Services Branch (ESB), functions as the INSARAG secretariat.
INSARAG activities are guided by United Nations General Assembly resolution 57/150 of 16 December 2002 on “Strengthening the Effectiveness and Coordination of International Urban Search and Rescue Assistance”. Activities are also led by the INSARAG Hyogo Declaration adopted at the first INSARAG Global Meeting in 2010 in Kobe, Japan.
INSARAG mandate includes:
- Field Coordination Support
- Render emergency preparedness and response activities more effective and thereby save more lives, reduce suffering and minimize adverse consequences.
- Improve efficiency in cooperation among international USAR teams working in collapsed structures at a disaster site.
- Promote activities designed to improve search-and-rescue preparedness in disaster-prone countries, thereby prioritizing developing countries.
- Develop internationally accepted procedures and systems for sustained cooperation between national USAR teams operating on the international scene.
- Develop USAR procedures, guidelines and best practices, and strengthen cooperation between interested organizations during the emergency relief phase.
INSARAG External Classifications
The INSARAG community acknowledges the importance of providing rapid, professional USAR support during disasters that result in structural collapse. To achieve this objective, INSARAG has developed a voluntary, independent peer review process of international USAR teams - the INSARAG External Classification (IEC).
The INSARAG Steering Group endorsed the IEC in 2005. The IEC has received unanimous support from INSARAG members. According to their operational capabilities, USAR teams deploying internationally are classified as "Medium Teams" or "Heavy Teams" through the IEC process. This ensures that qualified and appropriate USAR resources are deployed accordingly.
Between 2005 and 2010, 21 international teams have been successfully classified. International USAR teams can apply for classification through the INSARAG secretariat.