The International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF), the international charity preventing loss of life in the world’s waters, has held a two day Inter Regional Mass Rescue Workshop for the Asia Pacific Region.  The event which was widely appreciated by the participants, took place on 10-11 July in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia alongside the 7th International Search and Rescue Conference and Exhibition.

Theresa Crossley, CEO IMRF said: “A mass rescue operation (MRO) is ‘characterised by the need for immediate response to large numbers of persons in distress, such that the capabilities normally available to the SAR authorities are inadequate’.  Our popular and highly rated workshops focus on promoting local and regional communication and discussion, raising awareness, sharing experiences and building preparedness.

“We encourage contributions from local organisations and include a scenario-based exercise, which is designed to raise questions of local relevance.  It’s an intensive, but extremely productive, two days for all those involved and afterwards the key parties are much more aware of their capabilities and the issues that they might face in such a difficult situation.”

The participant feedback highlighted that the workshop content was considered very relevant, informative and beneficial, with many calling for more training on the subject to help build on the knowledge gained and ensure comprehensive MRO preparedness across the region.

The MRO workshop was delivered by United States Coast Guard specialists George Butler, Environmental Emergency Specialist and Master Exercise Planner, and Robert Lee, U. S. Coast Guard Passenger Vessel Safety Specialist, Mass Rescue Operations Planning & Exercises and Captain Udo Helge Fox, Chairman of the IMRF and Executive Director of German Maritime Search and Rescue Service (DGzRS).

Captain Udo Helge Fox, Chairman of the IMRF commented: “I am very pleased to hear the extremely positive feedback from the MRO workshop participants. The workshop has clearly raised awareness of the many issues to be considered in such a scenario and the comments made, show that there is an acknowledged need to further strengthen cooperation and improve SAR capabilities across this region.”

The detailed and practical Inter Regional Asia Pacific workshop attracted attendees from the Royal Malaysian Airforce, the Royal Malaysian Navy, the Royal Malaysia Police, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, the Malaysian Road Transport Department and Weststar Aviation, among others.  The Defence Attaché from the Korean Embassy also attended the workshop, along with representatives from the Malaysian Marine Department and St John’s Ambulance, from NGO’s based in Algeria and Pakistan, from the Eaglestar Shipping Company and Grand Benchmark Marine Services which is an IMRF Member.