In June 2012, Civilience were asked to provide a team leader for the forthcoming INSARAG External Classification (IEC) of the Turkish Civil Defence Team as represented by AFAD Istanbul. Subsequently, we participated in the preparation for the assessment, evaluating the results of a technical mission by German and UK search and rescue trainers, participating in a series of teleconferences and preparing the IEC team itself.

This particular IEC assessment was the first that was termed a 're-evaluation', the Turkish team having undertaken a full assessment in July 2011. At that time and for a number of reasons, it was felt that the USAR team had not demonstrated all the requirements necessary for a international search and rescue team operating within the INSARAG methodology. Following this intial evaluation, the AFAD Istanbul team put in a lot of hard work and thought into improving their systems of work, logistics processes, documentation and training methods. They were supported in this by the INSARAG community, specifically by the THW (German) and UK-ISAR (UK) classified teams. Once this training and development process was completed, it was agreed that the AFAD Istanbul team would just need to be re-evaluated on the specific areas of non-compliance and this re-evaluation was scheduled for October 2012.

David represented Civilience as the Team Leader at the IEC, which was highly successful, the Istanbul search and rescue team performed extremely well and the classiifers were pleased to be able to recommend that they be awarded the status of an INSARAG Heavy Rescue Team. The TURK USAR team became the 33rd team to classify under the INSARAG (United Nations) system.

To view some pictures of the IEC exercise, follow the link here »

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Turkish Civil Defence

As a country prone to earthquakes and situated on one of the major active fault lines in the world, the Turkish Government takes disaster preparedness and response very seriously. Two consecutive major earthquakes in 1999 became the turning point in disaster management in Turkey. After these disasters, both the academic and the technical authorities in Turkey agreed that the country needed to develop pre-disaster precautions covering a revised legislation and administrative restructuring. Three core institutions were unified under a single independent authority by an Act called, "The Establishment of Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency". The act was adopted by the Turkish parliament and entered into force in June, 2009. The name of the new institution is the Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (DEMP).

In order to take necessary measures for an effective emergency management and civil protection issues nationwide, DEMP conducts; pre-incident works such as preparedness, mitigation and risk management, during incident works such as response, post incident works such as recovery and reconstruction. The main civil defence organisation is Afet ve Acil Durum Yönetimi Başkanlığı (AFAD), which has 11 brigades across the major cities of Turkey and volunteer units in all 81 major towns. The AFAD brigade based in Istanbul was the team selected to undertake the INSARAG Internal Classification process.

To view the AFAD website, follow the link here »

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INSARAG Classification and Reclassification

The INSARAG classification process facilitates capacity building, ensures minimum standards and matches capabilities to needs and priorities. IEC teams are well recognized by the INSARAG badge they wear, affected countries are able to know what type of assistance they can expect to receive and INSARAG classified USAR teams working alongside each other know the capacities each can offer. A classified INSARAG team is a professional response meeting the standards set in the INSARAG Guidelines, a team that speaks a common global USAR language and a team that will make a real difference in the life saving phase of a disaster. The INSARAG community has developed two voluntary, independent, peer review processes: the INSARAG External Classification (IEC) and INSARAG External Reclassification (IER).

Now, 33 USAR teams from around the glode have successfully classified within the system and 5 of those teams have gone on to reclassify. An IEC or IER is a demanding process that is not to be underestimated. It requires the total executive and operational commitment of the sponsoring agency, the USAR team, its Mentor as well as several other stakeholders to ensure success. Having been involved in the classification process as as part of USAR team management, as INSARAG classifiers, as Mentors and as Classification Team Leaders, Civilience have a unique experience of the classification and reclassification process.