IMRF launches pandemic response guidance for SAR organizations

The International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF), supported by Lloyd’s Register Foundation, has published a manual which it said would provide “vital recommendations for operational planning and response in health emergencies and comprehensive guidance for anyone working in search and rescue, on how to ensure that SAR operations can continue safely in the face of challenges posed not only by Covid-19, but also by any future health emergencies”.

IMRF said that the Pandemic Response Guidance would support SAR providers in improving their level of preparedness for any forthcoming pandemics, It enhances initial materials produced by IMRF members in early 2020, its first response to the then still-emerging Covid-19 pandemic.

The guidance has been peer reviewed by IMRF members around the world and is free to download from the IMRF website.

IMRF chief executive Theresa Crossley said that the guidance brought together “all the knowledge and experience of our international membership.  It’s been developed specifically for the challenges faced in the current global pandemic, but designed in such a way that it can be used as a basis for operational planning and response in any future pandemics or major health emergencies”.

Crossley said that IMRF members globally had reported that their search and rescue services were needed as much as ever, but, because of Covid-19, operating conditions were far more challenging and SAR teams faced unprecedented new risks.

Lloyd’s Register Foundation Director of Technologies Dr Jan Przydatek said that “I am pleased that, with the support of the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, IMRF have been able to produce this guidance. I have no doubt that it will help SAR responders to better protect the health of both those rescued and SAR responders themselves.”

The Pandemic Response Guidance outlines the roles of different stakeholders and priorities for maritime SAR organizations, as well as suggesting options for the delivery of essential training and guidance for non-operational activities. The manual also addresses the well-being of SAR personnel and measures for safeguarding the environment.

The IMRF will be organizing a Pandemic Response Guidance session at its forthcoming conference, the International Mass Rescue Conference (G5) from October 17th to 19th in Sweden.

The new manual will be reviewed in three years to incorporate further learnings and any new developments.