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Chinese rescue team regains top billing

Updated: 2014-09-02
By Devon Zhang (chinadaily.com.cn)
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The China International Search & Rescue Team, or CISAR passed its three-day peer review on August. 28th, reclaiming its expired title of "Heavy Team," the United Nations' highest international external classification.

That title means China's rescue team is officially recognized as excellent. On short notice, it can mobilize within eight hours of a request and can be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours for a response assignment of up to 10 days in challenging conditions.

Originating in 2005, the United Nations International External Classification, or IEC for Urban Search and Rescue teams has been a comprehensive exhibition of the overall capacity of teams as well as an important reference for disaster-inflicted countries to determine whether or not to accept an international Urban Search and Rescue team’s help. The IEC’s validity lasts for five years, and upon expiration, an International External Reclassification, or IER is required.

The Chinese group had to show proficiency in 150 subjects. IER for CISAR is an integrated field exercise with all required functions and steps. It features all five basic functions: management, search, rescue, medical treatment and logistics as well as all four necessary steps: preparation, mobilization, action and withdrawal.

The review process is supposed to last 37 hours but the judges gave their approval after 31 hours because of the team’s excellent performance, said Zhao Ming, head of the China Earthquake Administration’s emergency department.

The peer review was carried out by nine experts from other countries.

The reviewers made some suggestions, saying team members should be given better earplugs. In addition they said rescuers should double-check the buckles on their ropes.

The group’s standard operating procedures will in future incorporate some of the points raised during the review.

The China International Search & Rescue Team first received the classification in 2009, the second Heavy Team in Asia following Singapore. After the team was originally classified in 2009, it was deployed to the earthquakes in Haiti and New Zealand as well as the Japan Tsunami where they contributed to life-saving activities collaborating with other teams.

Video: Devon Zhang

Producer: Flora Yue

Related story in China Daily: Rescue forces get top rating in review

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