The International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF), the international charity preventing loss of life in the world’s waters, has delivered a high-level specialist workshop on Mass Rescue Operations (MRO) for a range of maritime emergency response officials in Bangladesh, in partnership with the Bangladesh Coast Guard.

The Bangladesh Coast Guard (BCG) is the maritime law enforcement authority in Bangladesh and this is the second MRO workshop that the IMRF has delivered with the organisation.

The training took place on Monday 28 May at the BCG headquarters in Dhaka, Bangladesh, with more than 40 officials from the Armed Forces Division, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Disaster Management, Army, Navy, Air Force, Border Guard Bangladesh, BSMRMU, Fire Service and Civil Defence, Department of Shipping, Chattogram Port Authority, Mongla Port Authority, Payra Port Authority, Bangladesh Shipping Corporation, Bangladesh Marine Academy (Chattogram), Marine Fisheries Academy, BIWTA, River Police and Ansar-VDP, all attending the workshop.

The workshop offered the attendees an opportunity to focus on MRO issues with international experts in an interactive environment.  The course was led by John Geel (from the Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution, KNRM) and Paulo Falé (from the Portuguese Navy).  It explored the most common challenges experienced in MRO situations, using expert knowledge and shared experience from around the world to identify focus areas for local response planning.  The discussion also covered important follow up actions to be taken by local stakeholders.

Theresa Crossley, CEO IMRF commented: “This is vital training, any major incident severely tests the capabilities of the responding units and organisations, and because of its scale and unpredictability, effective preparedness and MRO response strategies are crucial.”

One of the course trainers, John Geel added: “It was good to see that so many organisations participated in this workshop, because it is not ‘if’ but ‘when’ a mass rescue operation will be needed and it is best to be prepared.” Paulo Falé commented: “Having no plan is not a plan!”

One of the Bangladesh Coastguard officers who attended the course, said afterwards: “The workshop was a great success. All of the participants highly appreciated the efforts of IMRF.  “

The training follows the recent donation of 2000 lifejackets to Bangladeshi fishermen to help prevent drowning as a result of bad weather and high seas.  The lifejackets were donated by Shanghai San Jin Shipping Company and Shanghai An Shipping company and the presentation of the jackets was organised by the IMRF’s Asia-Pacific Regional Centre.

The waterways in and around Bangladesh are the primary means of transporting people around the country. More than a thousand lives are lost each year at sea, around the coast, and in other waters, as vessels continue to grow in size, with double, and even, triple decked launches being built, making overloading a significant hazard and challenge.