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Since 2016 Madeira Island has developed an increased awareness in respect of Mass Rescue Operations (MRO), using the guidelines released by the IMRF.

This has involved hosting several meetings, one MRO seminar, MRO workshops and Medical Response to Major Incident’s (MRMI) courses, that permitted the integration of MRO subjects in realistic medical response scenarios.

All of these events combined allow proficient training for the benefit of the rescue structure communities with a relatively low cost.

Here Paulo Falé, an IMRF Mass Rescue Operations Subject Matter facilitator explains more.

It is notable the evolution in Madeira regarding risk analysis, and strategy development to fulfil the ‘capability gap’ within an MRO context.

The Regional MRO response plan preparation and training reached its outcome in November 2018, with a full Live Exercise.

This was just, three months after a snaller MRO Live Exercise was carried out with the support of IMRF MRO expert Paulo Falé.

This live exercise, concluded the first stage of MRO response capability training. It started with the 17th Medical Response to Major Incidents (MRMI) Course, bringing to Madeira Island around 150 participants from several areas of Rescue and Medical Emergency.

After three days of MRMI training, it was time to conduct the MRO Live exercise. The training objectives were higher than ever and the exercise scenario also involved the Ropax Ferry Lobo Marinho, from the Grupo Sousa Porto Santo Line.

This company is the largest shipowner and operator in Portugal and the only Portuguese shipping group to feature in the world “Top 100” according to Alphaliner’s list!

The scenario for the Live Exercise was designed to permit the training of all the stakeholders and started with a simulated fire on board the Lobo Marinho's car deck after departing from Funchal harbour.

As the Lobo Marinho conducts daily trips between Madeira and Porto Santo Islands this exercise allowed for the testing of intervention capability, according to ISM (International Safety Management).

The SAR Cooperation Plan and Vessel TRIAGE method developed by The Finnish Border Guard were also tested during the exercise.

This LIVEX was integrated into the Portuguese Medical Emergency Congress, (Congresso Nacional de Emergência Médica Pré-Hospitalar 2018) and was the first of its kind ever conducted in Madeira, with over 200 players on board.

All players were evacuated to shore facilities set up in the port of Funchal.

The exercise allowed the training and coordination of all stakeholders with high proficiency, excellent response capabilities and excellent coordination with the authorities command structures.


Madeira Health and Civil Protection Secretary (Dr. Pedro Ramos): “Madeira lived today on board Ropax Ferry Lobo Marinho one memorable moment in rescue history”.

Regional Civil Protection Service (Captain José Dias): "This type of exercise demonstrates the clear commitment of the Regional Civil Protection Service of Madeira to fully cooperate and train with the competent authorities acting in the maritime area, in order to reinforce and streamline procedures in this aspect of high-scale victims relief, once these kind of events most likely exceed the routine response capabilities, therefore imposing doctrine standardisation and familiarisation, new methodologies for an efficient intervention in a demanding operational environment, in order to achieve an effective and most capable overall coordination and “unity of effort” among all agents involved."

Grupo Sousa Director (Captain Pedro Frazão): This exercise put in evidence the strong commitment of all involved to test and train MRO procedures and plans in a complex operational environment. It represented an excellent training opportunity for the Captain and crew of Ropax Ferry “Lobo Marinho” in support of the Regional Authorities.

IMRF Mass Rescue Operations Subject Matter Expert (Lieutenant Paulo Falé): Mass Rescue Operations are a complex and challenging topic, it is important to increase the global awareness in order that all stakeholders understand the challenge and weaknesses. The opportunity to integrate Ropax Ferry Lobo Marinho training with the MRO exercise, shown the importance to maintain the effort on MRO training, in order to be better prepared for the conduct of such operations in real life environment.

Photo Credits: Maria do Carmo / Luis Oliveira