A crack team of 75 Queensland specialists who provide support during disasters – both here and overseas - will be put under the international microscope this week in Brisbane.
Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford said the state’s AUS-1 Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) would be assessed by international judges to retain their United Nations’ classification.
Mr Crawford, who tonight (Monday) will launch the reclassification exercise, said he was confident the team would “once again show why they are among the best in the world when it comes to responding to emergencies”.
“Every five years, teams from across the world undergo the reclassification process to ensure their proficiency to respond to a range of international disasters,” Mr Crawford said.
“This week’s reclassification exercise in Brisbane will involve international experts from the UK, US, Japan, China and Saudi Arabia.
“Our Australian colleagues from the AUS-2 team, and Federal representatives from the Department of Home Affairs and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will also put our team through their paces.
“The exercise simulates conditions and experiences that occur in a real disaster event – including an earthquake and the subsequent mobilisation, search and rescue response.”
Mr Crawford said Queensland’s AUS-1 Disaster Assistance Response Team, as part of the Urban Search and Rescue Response (USAR) capability, had provided support during floods, cyclones, earthquakes and other natural disasters in Australia and overseas.
“I’m proud of the state’s on-going commitment to the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG), which is the global network of more than 80 countries and organisations who sit under the UN," he said.
“This is the second INSARAG External Reclassification for the AUS-1 team, and marks a decade since the team achieved its first classification as a ‘Heavy USAR’ team."
Being part of the DART taskforce involves being fully-self-contained and autonomous for up to two weeks during search and rescue operations involving building collapses in an urban environment. The team also can also assist the UN in coordinating a global response to provide humanitarian aid to those in need during disasters.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) Commissioner Katarina Carroll said training exercises enabled DART to “more efficiently respond to international disaster situations”.
“The exercises also expand our state and national capacity to accept assistance from international relief teams if a disaster event occurred in Australia,” Ms Carroll said.
“Training exercises such as the one this week in Brisbane provide a vital training opportunity to build practical experience and refresh our search and rescue skills in a real-life scenario.”
Minister for Fire and Emergency Services
The Honourable Craig Crawford