The International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) has secured essential funding to develop new search and rescue (SAR) training resources, which will help SAR teams around the world to complete their rescue missions safely during pandemics and health emergencies.

The new resources will include a pandemic training manual and a range of online resources, including live streamed events to demonstrate and promote the resources at the IMRF’s next international SAR conference which will be held in October 2021 in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Theresa Crossley, CEO IMRF explains: "Unfortunately, medical experts believe that pandemics like the COVID-19 coronavirus will continue to occur.  Search and Rescue teams around the world are hugely dedicated and committed to responding to any distress call at sea or on water, but we must ensure that by doing so they are not risking themselves or those being rescued."

Faced with the coronavirus global pandemic, the IMRF’s members came together to share their ideas and experiences to start to build a body of information to help SAR teams safely manage the risks associated with COVID-19.  However, it’s made us all realise that we need to be better prepared to face similar situations in the future.

This is not an issue that is going to go away, we need clear guidance on the best ways to handle different situations and the measures we should put in place to protect both the SAR crew and the rescued. This funding will allow us to ensure that something positive comes out of the current pandemic. It means that we can dedicate expert resource to developing  resources that can be used by any SAR organisation around the world.

The new materials will include photographs, diagrams and infographics which are vital where English is not the first language.  

The pandemic training manual will be shared with all the IMRF’s member organisations and the online resources will be freely available on the IMRF’s website for any SAR organisation looking for expert guidance on managing risk and best practice operational procedures.

The IMRF is the only global maritime SAR organisation recognised by the United Nations body, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the resources will also be promoted through the IMO’s networks to ensure they reach as many SAR teams in as many countries as possible.