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Improving emergency response for mass rescue at sea

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Bruce Reid

IMRF brings together international experts to improve planning and resolve challenges

Every year more than 400,000 people lose their lives in the world’s waters1, but many of these deaths could be prevented through safety interventions and improved maritime search and rescue coordination and response.

The International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) is bringing together experts from around the world for its 4th International Maritime Mass Rescue Conference to address some of these issues.

The event will be held on 11-13 June, 2017 in Gothenburg, Sweden, and includes a live mass rescue exercise for all those attending. The sea-based simulation exercise will offer a valuable shared experience to build on over the following two days.

While the migrant situation in the Mediterranean may be top of many people’s minds, this year marks the 30th anniversary of the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster and also the Dona Paz collision in the Philippines – the worst loss of life in a peacetime shipping disaster ever.

Since the tragic deaths of 852 people in the Estonia ferry disaster in 1994, SOLAS regulations have stipulated that passenger ships on international routes must have a plan to cooperate with search and rescue services in the event of an emergency and should take part in regular exercises to test their preparedness.

Most ferry accidents occur in the developing world and the conference will bring together experts to share experiences and learning to help both developed and developing countries improve their emergency responses.

Bruce Reid, CEO IMRF says: “Any major incident severely tests the capabilities of the responding emergency services; even more so when the rescue or relief efforts involve operations on the water.

This conference is unique in that it brings together experts and professionals with real-life experience of maritime mass rescue operations to share vital knowledge, discuss best practice and develop guidelines for anyone or any organisation involved in this vital work, saving lives.”

The International Maritime Rescue Federation is a charity and the only organization to represent and unite search and rescue providers around the world, sharing best practice and knowledge and representing this important sector at the UN’s International Maritime Organization.

The delegates will be skilled professionals involved in or responsible for maritime rescue – from search and rescue teams around the world, to passenger ship operators, government agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The IMRF MRO Conference is being hosted by the Swedish Sea Rescue Society based in Gothenburg. It will be followed by a separate event, a new high level mass rescue training course held at Chalmers University, Gothenburg, which has been developed in response to international demand from search and rescue experts in major organisations or representatives responsible for their countries’ national preparedness and response.

Visit http://www.imrfmro.org/homeg4 to find out more about the conference and registration details.

1World Health Organisation Report on Drowning, 2014


The International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) brings the world’s maritime search and rescue organisations together in one global and growing family. IMRF’s member organisations share their lifesaving ideas, technologies and experiences and freely cooperate with one another to achieve their common humanitarian aim: “Preventing loss of life in the world’s waters”.

The International Maritime Rescue Federation was founded (as the International Lifeboat Federation) in 1924. In 1985 it was granted non-governmental consultative status with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in recognition of the good work being undertaken and the growing need for an organisation to act as a global focal point for maritime search and rescue. In 2003 it was registered as an independent charity and in 2007 the organisation was renamed the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF), reflecting the broader scope of modern maritime search and rescue activity.


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