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INSARAG Membership and Structure

Any country or organization with a stake in urban search and rescue is invited to join the network. Countries that are interested to joint the INSARAG network are requested to identify an INSARAG national focal point that acts as interface with the INSARAG Regional Group and the INSARAG Secretariat. Organizations wishing to apply for INSARAG membership can do so by addressing a request to the INSARAG Secretariat through their respective INSARAG National Focal Points. 

INSARAG member countries with USAR teams deploying internationally are strongly encouraged to apply for an INSARAG External Classification (IEC), however this is not a requirement to be a member of the INSARAG network. 

What does it mean to me a member of INSARAG?

INSARAG members are part of a worldwide knowledge-sharing network on collapsed structure rescue and operational field coordination. They are invited to annual meetings of the relevant INSARAG Regional Group and to participate in INSARAG working groups.  Furthermore, members have access to INSARAG’s information and knowledge-sharing tool, the “Virtual OSOCC” (Virtual On-Site Operations Coordination Centre - http://ocha.unog.ch/virtualosocc) and the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS - http://www.gdacs.org/) on the internet, which provide alert notification in the event of a sudden-onset disaster and real-time information updates and coordination during ongoing disasters.

What are the responsibilities of INSARAG members?

As specified in GA Resolution 57/150 of 16 December 2002 and in the INSARAG Guidelines:

In disaster-affected countries:

  • Conducting damage and needs assessments as quickly as possible;
  • Specifying and prioritizing the nature of assistance required in the request for international assistance;
  • Facilitating immigration procedures for international relief personnel;
  • Designating a government entity with unique responsibility for coordinating international relief activities;
  • Providing information updates and requests immediately on the Virtual OSOCC;
  • Use the Reception Centre and OSOCC to facilitate the integration of international assets in the national response effort

Assisting countries means:

  • Deploying only USAR teams that comply with the INSARAG Guidelines;
  • Including capacity in USAR teams to be able to cooperate with, establish or strengthen the Reception Centre or OSOCC in the field;
  • Providing updates about their response on the Virtual OSOCC.

Structure

INSARAG is composed of a Steering Group, three Regional Groups (Africa-Europe-Middle East, Americas, Asia- Pacific) and a Secretariat (Field Coordination Support Section in ESB, OCHA Geneva).  It holds annual worldwide international USAR team leaders meetings and has ad-hoc working groups to deal with specialized issues.

The role of the Steering Group is to determine INSARAG policy.  It meets annually to define INSARAG strategy, review achievements and identify areas for improvement.  It is composed of representatives from INSARAG’s Regional Groups, the chairpersons of INSARAG ad-hoc working groups, the IFRC and representatives from the INSARAG Secretariat in OCHA-Geneva.

INSARAG is organized into three Regional Groups in order to facilitate worldwide participation.  The Regional Groups in Africa-Europe-Middle East, Americas, and Asia-Pacific meet annually to exchange experiences drawn from previous response operations. They discuss concepts for improved cooperation and coordination between international response teams in the region and present recommendations concerning worldwide issues to the INSARAG Steering Group.

INSARAG ad-hoc working groups develop solutions to identified problems.  All INSARAG members are encouraged to participate in these working groups.  Results of the working groups need to be reviewed by the INSARAG Regional Groups and endorsed in the Steering Group before implementation.

At INSARAG annual USAR team leaders meetings, international USAR team leaders discuss operational and technical issues regarding collapsed structure rescue.

The Field Coordination Support Section (FCSS) within the Emergencies Services Branch (ESB) of OCHA Geneva functions as the INSARAG Secretariat.